By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a ruling against Exxon Mobil Corp that ordered the company to pay $105 million in damages for polluting New York City’s groundwater with a toxic gasoline additive.
The decision not to hear the case leaves intact a July 2 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld the judgment.
In 2009, a jury concluded that Exxon contaminated water supply wells when the additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), leaked from its underground storage tanks in the borough of Queens.
The appeals court rejected Exxon’s arguments that it was required to use the additive under the federal Clean Air Act. An oxygen-containing substance that is added to gasoline to promote more complete combustion and reduce air pollution, MTBE was one of several additives recommended by regulators to reduce emissions.
It has now largely been phased out of the U.S. fuel supply because of its danger to groundwater.
New York City claimed Exxon went ahead and used the chemical in the 1980s through the first half of the 2000s despite warnings from its own scientists and engineers that it could be harmful in areas that relied on groundwater for drinking.
MTBE has been identified as an animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen and causes water to smell foul and taste bad.
The water wells in southeast Queens that were contaminated serve as a backup supply for the city’s drinking water when the reservoirs upstate go offline because of repairs or droughts.
The New York case was intended serve as a bellwether case to provide guidance for other MTBE complaints that have been brought around the country.
The case is Exxon Mobil v. City of New York, U.S. Supreme Court, 13-842.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Will Dunham)
Hope Hicks told Congress that Trump has cut her out of his life — he virtually never calls her anymore
Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was broadly considered to be one of President Donald Trump's favorite staffers.
But when she left the administration in 2018, the president virtually cut off ties to her, and has only spoken with her five times since then, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday:
In her interview, Hope Hicks says she has only spoken to Trump between five and ten times since she left the White House in February 2018. (He used to call that much in a day.) They last spoke in April, when they had dinner. Our story from yesterday:https://t.co/3gzVY21c3z pic.twitter.com/VMZqhnbgib
Hope Hicks called Trump’s plan for Jeff Sessions ‘odd’ — but White House lawyers blocked her from elaborating why
By all accounts, ex-White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was not particularly forthcoming in her interview with the House Judiciary Committee — but according to the 273-page transcript of the closed-door hearing released on Thursday, she did begin to discuss a key point at which President Donald Trump potentially obstructed justice — until White House lawyers sitting with her intervened.
CNN's Manu Raju explained the details to Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."
"She did answer some questions about her time in the campaign season, and at one point did make one reference to something that later became a dispute," said Raju. "She was asked about the details in the Mueller report in which the president tried to get Jeff Sessions, the then-Attorney General, to un-recuse himself, to go back and oversee the Russia investigation after he had stepped aside from overseeing it."
Elections regulator warns foreign intrusion into US campaigns is already happening
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Federal Elections Commission is warning that there is already foreign intrusion in the U.S. campaigns.
FEC chair Ellen L. Weintraub was forced to issue a statement after President Donald Trump said that he wasn't sure what he would do if a foreign government approached him with "dirt" on his political opponent. He said that he "might" tell the FBI but would likely hear what they had to say. He said that it wasn't illegal, but Weintraub issued a statement reiterating that it is illegal.
"I am particularly concerned about the risk of illicit funds and foreign support influencing our political system. Foreign dark money represents a significant vulnerability for American democracy. We do not know the extent to which our political campaigns receive foreign dark money, but we do know that the political money can be weaponized by well-funded hostile powers," the letter warned.