Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Oil giants seek to skirt responsibilities for MTBE

In a move that is certain to enrage environmentalists, the oil industry is seeking to absolve itself of responsibility for the seepage of MTBE into California's water supply:

Staring at potential payouts in the billions of dollars, the U.S. oil industry is maneuvering to escape responsibility for cleaning up after MTBE, the now-banned toxic gasoline additive that has seeped into drinking water across the country.

If the campaign is successful, critics say taxpayers will be forced to pick up the unpaid bill.

Oil producers have attached so much importance to immunity from liability that the issue has taken a place right alongside opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and tax breaks as Congress crafts a broad new energy policy.

Immunity could relieve some pressure on gas prices, but at what cost?