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Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
Internet:
arceneaux@amwa.net
http://www.amwa.net

Company Information :
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
1620 I Street, NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
USA
Ph. 2023312820
Fx. 2027851845

Media Contacts:
Michael Arceneaux
Deputy Executive Director
202-331-2820
c 202-271-5261

Association Of Metropolitan Water Agencies Questions Misinformation Over MTBE

Water Group Requests Congressional Hearing

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON/EWORLDWIRE/Feb. 16, 2005 --- Today the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton requesting a hearing on the MTBE liability waiver sought by the petroleum industry in the energy bill.

AMWA contends that the industry has disseminated several pieces of misleading information about the waiver. The association asks chairman Barton for the opportunity to correct the record.

An Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the energy bill is scheduled for today but no witnesses from local governments or community water systems have been invited to testify.

The text of the letter follows:

February 15, 2005

The Honorable Joe Barton
Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Re: MTBE Industry Misinformation on the Liability Waiver

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On behalf of the largest publicly owned drinking water utilities in the United States, I respectfully request that the Committee on Energy and Commerce hold a hearing specifically on the MTBE liability waiver sought by the petroleum industry. There does not appear to be a witness at the February 16, 2005 hearing from local government to address the significant impacts of the MTBE liability waiver on communities and their water systems.

AMWA would like the opportunity to correct misinformation being disseminated on this issue. The petroleum industry has propagated an enormous amount of misleading information regarding the liability waiver and the motivations of communities and their water systems in fighting the waiver.

Perhaps the biggest fallacy from the industry is that the producers would still be liable if Congress shields them from product defect liability. But taking away product defect liability leaves only basic negligence, which only reaches as far as the tank owners. While service station owners may be responsible to some extent, these small family businesses are only a fraction of the problem. The MTBE producers are clearly responsible for creating MTBE and putting it into commerce despite knowing its dangers to drinking water.

The industry attempts to characterize our position as being driven by trial lawyers. Instead, because states and communities stand to suffer severe financial and water resource impacts due to MTBE contamination, lawsuits are being initiated by states attorneys general, mayors, water utility executives and even school districts. Suing MTBE producers is a last resort for state and local governments, but without the threat of product liability suits, MTBE producers have no incentive to come to the negotiating table.

One of the most significant pieces of misleading information that needs correcting is the petroleum industry's contention that MTBE was mandated in 1990, and, thus, the industry should not pay for cleanup. In fact, there was no mandate. But regardless, these companies put this defective product into commerce as an octane enhancer long before 1990.

Finally, if you accept their argument, albeit incorrect, that there was a federal mandate to use MTBE, then why does the energy bill have no provisions to help utilities clean up the contaminant? The industry points to the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund as the solution. But neither the current LUST program nor the proposed amendments to it adequately address contaminated aquifer cleanup. Plus, the trust fund is woefully under-financed, and the revenue source for the fund expires this summer. MTBE is a multi-billion-dollar problem, and communities and water consumers should not be burdened with one dime of it.

We appreciate your consideration, and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Diane VanDe Hei
Executive Director

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CONTACT:
Michael Arceneaux
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
Washington, DC 20006
PHONE. 202-331-2820
EMAIL: arceneaux@amwa.net
http://www.amwa.net

KEYWORDS: water, MTBE, energy, gasoline

SOURCE: Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)


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