More Environmental Fraud Brought to You by Big Government

House Republicans are proposing an $11.4 billion fund to clean up water contaminated by the gasoline additive MTBE. According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription):
“The proposal would give makers of MTBE, which has been found to contaminate drinking water supplies in at least 36 states, protection against product liability lawsuits brought by communities facing billions of dollars in cleanup costs.”
The story goes on:
“MTBE, or methyl tertiary-butyl ether, is an additive that in the 1990s became used widely in gasoline as an oxygenate to help reduce air pollution. It since has been found to contaminate drinking water across much of the country when gasoline leaks from underground storage tanks. While its health impact is uncertain, MTBE even at low concentrations causes a foul smell and taste in drinking water. Unlike other, even more toxic, components of gasoline, MTBE flows easily through water because of its chemical composition and isn’t biodegradable, causing particularly difficult cleanup problems.”
I wonder about doing nothing at zero cost; the foul smell and taste suggest that humans will not drink the stuff.
Incredibly, the story does not mention that use of this additive resulted from EPA regulations in the 90’s. Those regulations require that reformulated gasoline (RFG) have a predetermined percentage of an oxygenate such as MTBE. Now refiners are potentially liable as a result of complying with the regulations! Here is a good description of the background and consequent problem resulting from the regulations.