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AFPM: disappointed in US Supreme Court

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ (AFPM) President Chet Thompson issued the following statement in response to the US Supreme Court’s decision not to hear ExxonMobil’s challenge to the New Hampshire Supreme Court case on groundwater contamination caused by unrelated parties.

In 2015, the New Hampshire Supreme court upheld a US$236 million judgment against the company’s use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in the state’s gasoline supply in the 1990s.

“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court refused to consider ExxonMobil’s challenge. The verdict in New Hampshire was wrong for a number of reasons, most notably, MTBE was an EPA approved additive used in order to comply with federal law, a fact that should protect refineries from any punitive state lawsuit.”

“The New Hampshire court’s decision sets a bad precedent for American industry at large by first inviting more spurious legal action against companies in compliance with federal laws and regulations and, second, by ignoring dubious legal tools such as statistical extrapolation to determine liability and damages. This decision should be a wakeup call to any industry doing business in New Hampshire.’

“The New Hampshire verdict unfairly penalised a company that had virtually no control over retailers’ gasoline infrastructure. Groundwater contamination from gasoline spills wasn’t caused by ExxonMobil, but the company will be forced to pay the state, after adding in interest, more than US$300 million for one very apparent reason; it has the deepest pockets. Also disconcerting is the fact that New Hampshire hasn’t committed to spend all of the money on addressing MTBE contaminated groundwater, as the jury was promised it would be.”

Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle

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