Exxon Fails to Slip by Guilty Verdict

GavelIt is hard to be an oil and gas producing giant and act environmentally conscious as well.

In order to reduce smog from gasoline-power vehicles, Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) introduced the additive MTBE to its gasoline in the 1970s and 1980s, but that chemical was eventually found to have polluted the groundwater in New Hampshire. Following a three-month trial in the state, jurors determined that the world’s largest publicly traded oil company had acted negligently and, therefore, was liable for $236.4 million in civil penalties, Jessica Grant, a lawyer who represented the state, told Reuters. A portion of the damages handed to Exxon will be used to pay the costs of testing and cleaning affected water supplies.

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“We’re very pleased that the jury held Exxon accountable for the harm its defective product caused to the state’s groundwater resources and that they also held Exxon responsible for its negligence,” she said.

The case — which was initially filed in a new Hampshire court in 2003 by the state — charged that Exxon and several other major companies knew that MTBE was likely to contaminate groundwater and that the additive would be more difficult to clean up than other pollutants. While the case was filed in state court, it was later moved to the state’s federal courthouse in Concord in order to accommodate the number of witnesses, lawyers, and exhibits…