Supreme Court Rejects ExxonMobil N.Y. MTBE Appeal

Company argued that $105 million award was "premature"

Exxon gas station (CSP Daily News / Convenience Store Petroleum)

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court has 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, reported Bloomberg.

The Irving, Texas-based oil and gas company argued unsuccessfully that any award was premature because the city is not planning to use the disputed wells in southeastern Queens for another 15 to 20 years.

Exxon used the additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), to comply with a 1990 federal law that required an increase in the oxygen content of gasoline sold at gas stations in the smoggiest parts of the country. New York later banned MTBE because of contamination concerns.

New York sued ExxonMobil 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, ExxonMobil 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 report said.

The case is Exxon Mobil v. City of New York.