At the Rio Grande Foundation, we have not been shy about criticizing Heather Wilson’s record on spending and the size of government (see here and here as just two examples). However, a radical environmental group is now running television ads that attack Wilson in a way that is very misleading on the issue of a fuel additive called “MTBE.” Check out the ad here.
Several years ago, MTBE put in use in 1979 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved it as a way to replace lead content and promote cleaner-burning gasoline. Unfortunately, MTBE causes big problems when it leaks into water supplies. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a provision in its 2005 energy bill that protects energy producers from lawsuits that are being filed over adding MTBE to gasoline, because the producers’ actions were taken to comply with federal law. Heather Wilson supported this effort when she was in the House.
MTBE spills should be cleaned up and no one is disputing that. It should also be recognized that federal policies are at the core of this issue. Lawsuits will only help the trial lawyers, a key constituency of the Democratic Party. They do nothing to actually get MTBE out of the water (will likely slow the process as it bogs down in lawsuits) and environmentalists should know this.