US water associations oppose MTBE immunity

US water utilities and consumers would be at risk of having to cover possibly billions of dollars in water contamination cleanup and source replacement costs if two pieces of legislation are enacted

US water utilities and consumers would be at risk of having to cover possibly billions of dollars in water contamination cleanup and source replacement costs if two pieces of legislation are enacted, according to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The legislation (HR 6 and S 791) provides liability immunity to the producers of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethanol.

Both water associations actively oppose both legislative bills. The House energy bill, HR 6, provides the makers of the fuel additives MTBE and ethanol "safe harbour" from product liability suits. S 791, likely to become part of the Senate energy bill, S 14, does the same for ethanol producers. If enacted, these provisions would prevent water systems from bringing product liability claims demanding producers of these fuel additives to clean up contaminated water supplies and pay for the acquisition of new sources of drinking water, and producers will have little incentive to do so on their own. Instead, water suppliers and consumers will be forced to pay the bill, according to AMWA and AWWA.

More in Energy Management