Don't Drink the Water

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In today's Boston Globe, Susan Milligan writes up Tom DeLay's leading role on legislation that would relieve the MTBE ( methyl tertiary butyl ether) industry of almost all liability in the clean-up of contaminated water supplies in New England.

DeLay argues that because the additive was necessary to meet federal requirements, the industry should not be liable for the chemical seeping into groundwater. New Hampshire, as well as 60 communities in Massachusetts have sued the industry, claiming that the MTBE contamination increases the risk of cancer.

Here's the really interesting part...

"The Saudi company, SABIC, is a leading maker of MTBE. It faces loss of business and potentially heavy cleanup costs if Congress does not protect the industry from lawsuits. The company, which has a member of the Saudi royal family as its chairman, has an office in Houston and a research and technology center in Sugar Land, Texas, DeLay's hometown and political base."

Milligan goes on: "Delay has several companies that either make or use MTBE in his district. Those companies have contributed to his campaigns, although SABIC -- barred by law from contributing because it is foreign-owned -- has not done so, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."

A DeLay aide who spoke on condition of anonymity said that "no one in the office could recall a specific meeting" between DeLay and SABIC representatives, but it is possible they could have met in the district to discuss "matters of local interest."