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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement this afternoon after House Republicans defeated an amendment to the Energy Bill offered by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA). Rep. Capps’ amendment would have struck a provision inserted in the bill that would immunize the producers of the fuel additive MTBE from responsibility for contaminating ground water, and shift the costs of cleanup to taxpayers. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) insisted that the provision be included in the bill:
“Today, House Republicans conclusively demonstrated that they are committed to putting the interests of oil companies ahead of the interests of the American people.
“For two years, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has insisted that a provision be included in the Energy Bill that insulates that producers of MTBE – a fuel additive that is a suspected carcinogen – from legal liability for contaminating water systems serving millions of Americans.
“In fact, Mr. DeLay’s insistence on this provision caused a meltdown in negotiations over the Energy Bill in the last Congress because even Senate Republicans could not abide by it.
“Let’s be clear: This provision is a special-interest handout in its rawest form. MTBE contamination has been found in water systems serving 45 million Americans in 29 states, and experts put the cleanup costs at more than $29 billion.
“This liability waiver is a massive unfunded mandate that shifts the cleanup costs from MTBE producers to local governments and citizens, and it is contrary to our most basic notion of fairness and responsibility. This provision should be struck in conference.”