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Pennsylvania suing major oil companies for pollution, money misuse

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Pennsylvania is suing major oil companies for using an additive in its gas that causes water pollution and for illegally collecting state funds to clean underground storage tanks that used the additive.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Gov. Tom Corbett’s General Counsel James Schultz jointly filed both lawsuits Thursday.

The first is against 51 oil companies for use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a chemical additive oil companies manufactured and used in gasoline. Included in the suit are heavyweights such as Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Citgo, Lukoil, Marathon Oil, Phillips 66, Shell, Sunoco, Texaco and Valero.

The 92-page suit seeks unspecified damages, though a joint news release from both state offices said the suit seeks “millions” in damages. The suit also asks for injunctive relief, fines and penalties for unfair trade practices for MTBE marketing.

MTBE was distributed and sold throughout the state beginning in the 1970s but was phased out as a gasoline additive in Pennsylvania in 2005, according to the news release. It causes groundwater pollution and can seep into groundwater wells.

The second suit seeks reimbursement for misuse of the Pennsylvania Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund.

That suit targets 36 of the major oil companies for collecting more than $1 billion from the fund that they weren’t eligible for. The fund is for gas spill cleanups.

While Hess Corp. isn’t named in the first lawsuit, the oil giant is named in the second.

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