AMWA, AWWA Against Liability Immunity for MTBE, Ethanol Producers

May 12, 2003

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) held a press conference this morning to express their opposition to legislation which would provide liability immunity to producers of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethanol.

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. The legislation (H.R. 6 and S. 791) provide liability immunity to the producers of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethanol.

The two associations, which together represent drinking water systems serving approximately 180 million Americans, are actively opposing both pieces of legislation. The press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The House energy bill, H.R. 6, provides the makers of the fuel additives MTBE and ethanol "safe harbor" 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 so on their own. Instead, water suppliers and consumers will be unfairly forced to pay the bill.

Participants in the press conference included Diane VanDe Hei, executive director, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA); Tom Curtis, deputy executive director, American Water Works Association (AWWA); Paul Granger, superintendent, Plainview Water District, NY; and Virginia Grebbien, general manager, Orange County Water District, Calif.

Source: AMWA and AWWA