Friends With Benefits
Saudi-owned company set to profit from proposed MTBE liability shield
OK, kids, follow the bouncing red ball: The Republican energy bill, pending in the Senate, is advertised as a way to gain independence from Saudi Arabian oil (boing!). Part of the energy bill, included at the insistence of Texas Rep. Tom DeLay (R), is a provision shielding makers of groundwater-polluting, potentially cancer-causing gas additive MTBE from liability lawsuits, despite projected costs of $8 billion to $29 billion to clean up MTBE contamination (boing!). One of the major companies that produces MTBE and would benefit from the liability shield is SABIC — which has spent some $1.5 million lobbying for it and happens to have a big research and technology center in Sugar Land, Texas, DeLay’s home base (boing!). SABIC is largely owned by the Saudi government (boi… wait, wha?). “The standard sound bite we’ve been getting for the last five years is that [the energy bill] will reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” says Keith Ashdown of the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Now it’s about how to subsidize foreign oil regimes.” Boing!