Vermont reaches $3.8M MTBE settlement with oil companies

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The Vermont Attorney General's office has reached a $3.8 million settlement in an environmental case against two dozen oil companies over the gasoline additive MTBE.

The additive was introduced in the 1970s as a way to reduce air pollution. But leaks of underground gas tanks caused contamination of private and public wells around the country. That included dozens of sites in Vermont, including high-profile cases in Killington, Clarendon, Hartland and Hinesburg.

Studies have linked MTBE to a variety of adverse health effects and it is a known animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen.

Vermont banned MTBE in 2007 and filed the lawsuits against BP, Shell, Exxon and other major companies in 2014. A Vermont Supreme Court ruling in 2016 found many of the state's claims had timed-out under Vermont's six-year statute of limitations.

As part of the settlement the state has reserved its right to pursue relief under Vermont’s environmental clean-up laws for any newly-discovered MTBE contamination, but all other future claims are released.

New Hampshire won a $236 million case against Exxon-Mobil over MTBEs six years ago that was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.