The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Exxon Mobil Corp.’s appeal of a $105 million jury verdict it was ordered to pay for contaminating underground water in New York City with a gasoline additive.
The Irving, Texas-based oil and gas company argued unsuccessfully that any award was premature because the city isn’t planning to use the disputed wells in southeastern Queens for another 15 to 20 years.
Exxon used the additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether, to comply with a 1990 federal law that required an increase in the oxygen content of gasoline in the smoggiest parts of the country. New York later banned MTBE, as the additive is known, because of contamination concerns.
New York sued Exxon Mobil and other oil companies in 2003, alleging that they knew MTBE would pollute groundwater. A New York-based federal appeals court last year upheld the 2009 jury verdict against the company.
At the Supreme Court, Exxon Mobil argued that the Clean Air Act shields oil companies from liability for using the safest, most feasible means of complying with the oxygen requirement.
The case is one of scores across the country by municipalities, states and individuals against oil refiners, distributors and retailers over MTBE.
The case is Exxon Mobil v. City of New York, 13-842.