Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell

Vermont has sued two dozen U.S. refiners, including BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil, for allegedly polluting the state’s groundwater with a gasoline additive.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell filed the case last week in state court in Montpelier, the capital.

The gasoline additive Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether, or MTBE, has been named as a pollutant in dozens of suits and claims across the U.S.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a jury verdict of $104.7 million against ExxonMobil for contaminating New York City wells with MTBE.

Vermont’s AG Sorrell said: “These companies knew years ago that MTBE was a uniquely bad actor in groundwater, and they ignored the risks and sold it anyway. This lawsuit is about holding them accountable and ensuring that they — and not Vermonters — pay to clean up our groundwater.”

A spokesperson for ExxonMobil, Todd Spitler, said MTBE litigation is flawed “because companies are being held liable for including oxygenates in gasoline that were required by Congress and approved by regulators,” Bloomberg reported.

“Companies that complied with the law and regulations to blend approved oxygenates in gasoline should not be held liable simply for following a government mandate,” Spitler said.

He added that there’s no recorded case of anyone becoming sick from MTBE water contamination.


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