MTBE makers seek environmental liability protection

By | September 01, 2002
A House proposal, gaining support among those trying to craft a compromise energy bill, would give manufacturers of MTBE, the additive now widely used in gasoline and blamed for fouling drinking water supplies in numerous states, a "safe harbor" from lawsuits seeking damages.

The liability protection, offered by Rep. Joe Barton, (R-Texas), whose state is home to major MTBE producers, is viewed as a final hurdle before approval of a politically popular measure that would triple the demand for ethanol over the next decade. MTBE would be banned nationally within four years under the measure.

Senate sources say the House proposal for liability relief has a fair chance of being accepted by Senate negotiators. The liability provision does not preclude lawsuits against those found responsible for MTBE-laden gasoline leaking into water supplies, but would protect against suits claiming MTBE itself was a defective product.