To the Members of the NYS Congressional Delegation:
I am writing you in regards to the House version of the Federal Energy Bill that passed the United States House of Representatives, which provides product liability immunity to gasoline manufacturers of MTBE.
The petrochemical industry argues that it was mandated to use MTBE in gasoline, this is not true. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAA) require the use of oxygenated gasoline in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution, however the CAA does not specifically require the use of MTBE.
If the liability from MTBE spills is removed, what incentive will gasoline manufacturers have to clean up contaminated water supplies? These water supplies will need to be cleaned up however, and these costs should not be borne by water consumers, but by the companies responsible for the spills. If this legislation is enacted, people in your districts will not only lose their aquifers to contamination, but bear the costs of cleanup and the acquisition of new sources of water.
A recent court case in California resulted in a settlement in which oil companies agreed to pay to help clean up MTBE contaminated water supplies. Important factors in the jury's decision were documents produced at trial proving that gasoline manufacturers have known for years that MTBE spreads into the environment deeper and faster than any other compounds of gasoline and is extremely expensive to clean up. This expense should not be passed on to our citizens and I urge you to do everything in your power not to grant liability immunity to manufacturers of gasoline.
I look forward to hearing from you and I want to thank you for your hard work in preserving the natural resources and pristine character of New York State.
Carl L. Marcellino