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Like Oil and Water: View Letter

April 5, 2005

The U.S. Conference of Mayors
National League of Cities
National Association of Counties
National Association of Towns and Townships
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
American Water Works Association
Association of California Water Agencies
Western Coalition of Arid States
American Public Works Association
National Water Resources Association

April 5, 2005

Oppose the MTBE Liability Waiver!

Dear Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

The undersigned organizations — representing thousands of mayors, city council members, county officials, towns and townships, drinking water systems and public works departments — reiterate our strong opposition to providing product liability immunity to the producers of MTBE.

The liability waiver amounts to a massive unfunded mandate on local governments and citizens.

MTBE producers, according to documents in recent litigation, put this contaminant into commerce knowing it could contaminate drinking water supplies. Under the MTBE product liability waiver, these producers would be rendered unaccountable.

Thousands of water sources have been contaminated, and as MTBE spreads, more and more communities will be forced to shut down wells or undertake a costly cleanup program.

Here are some important facts to remember:

  1. 1. MTBE was never mandated, and Congress is not obligated to provide the producers
  2. 2. One estimate by experts puts the cleanup cost in excess of $29 billion.
  3. 3. The liability waiver would retroactively block hundreds of communities' legitimate suits that have been filed already and could preempt hundreds more, leaving communities with a multi-billion dollar unfunded mandate from Congress.
  4. 4. The Leaking Underground Storage Tank fund was not intended to address the overwhelming amount of contamination communities are experiencing. Moreover, taxpayers should not pay for MTBE cleanup.

Please oppose the MTBE liability waiver.

Sincerely,

Tom Cochran, Executive Director, The U.S. Conference of Mayors Donald J. Borut, Executive Director, National League of Cities
Larry Naake, Executive Director, National Association of Counties Allen R. Frischkorn Jr., Executive Director, National Association of Towns and Townships
Diane VanDe Hei, Executive Director, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies Jack Hoffbuhr, Executive Director, American Water Works Association
Steve Hall, Executive Director, Association of California Water Agencies Peter B. King, Executive Director, American Public Works Association
Larry Libeu, President, Western Coalition of Arid States Thomas F. Donnelly, Executive VP National Water Resources Association