Thursday, June 08, 2006


Have a Glass of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether [Archival Material 2004]
By Thomas Riggins

Marx tells us that our class position should dictate how we see the world. This is certainly true for the bourgeoisie – they never fail to recognize what will best further their class interests. Unfortunately this isn’t always true of the working class which, infected with false consciousness, often ends up, contrary to its own class interests, in the camp of its enemies.

Here is an example. According to The New York Times of October 31, 2004, New York State has "one of the worst cases of drinking water pollution in the nation." This is because a gasoline additive called M.T.B.E. (methyl tertiary butyl ether) was in the gasoline supply starting about 12 years ago. It was supposed to cut down on air pollution. But after six years it was discovered that M.T.B.E. causes cancer and that it had gotten into the water supply. The Times says there are over 13,000 spills. The spills are primarily from trucks and gas storage facilities. Your local gas station has big tanks under it full of gasoline waiting to be pumped into your car. But these tanks leak and so the M.T.B.E. gets into the ground and from there to the water table, and then into you.

Besides New York, 27 other states have this problem, and it would cost around $100 billion to clean all this mess up. Who should pay? The working people or the oil companies? The working people will pay if the government cleans up using tax revenues as most of the taxes are paid by working people.

In 2003 the Bushoids backed a bill in Congress that "would have protected the oil companies from having to pay for the clean up." This sounds like par for the course. Tom Delay’s office (he is the Bushoid majority leader in the House) claims its not the oil companies fault. They put the M.T.B.E. in the gasoline because it was Congress that passed a law requiring them to use additives that cut down on air pollution. Delay’s district just happens to have a lot of big M.T.B.E. manufactures in it. (The bill hasn’t been passed).

So are the Republicans right? Were the oil companies innocently trying to do their civic duty under the law? Were they simply obeying Congress as Rep. Delay’s office says? "Those who produced it [M.T.B.E.] were fulfilling this%

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