New Hampshire: Exxon Mobil ignored warnings on gas additive

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Jurors in New Hampshire's groundwater contamination case against Exxon Mobil are expected to begin deliberations today after getting instructions from the judge.

In closing arguments yesterday, they were asked to decide whether the state is seeking a scapegoat or whether the company was protecting its profits, not the environment, by adding MTBE to its gasoline.

Jessica Grant, an attorney arguing for the state, said internal Exxon Mobil memos dating back to 1984 warned of the ethical and environmental consequences of MTBE, an additive designed to reduce smog. The state wants jurors to hold Exxon Mobil liable to the tune of $240 million to monitor and clean up wells and public water systems contaminated by the chemical.

Lawyers for Exxon Mobil countered that MTBE - methyl tertiary butyl ether - was used to comply with federal Clean Air Act requirements. They also blame any lingering contamination on third parties not named in the state's decade-old lawsuit.

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