Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has followed up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) on the on-going investigation of last year’s gas shortage in American Samoa.
“Last year’s gas shortage was brought on, in part, by Exxon Mobil’s (and possibly BP’s) failure to add detergent additives to American Samoa’s gasoline supply,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “In fact, a Mobil tanker carrying 400 tons of fuel was diverted because the fuel was missing a detergent additive.”
“Federal law (specifically the Clean Air Act) requires gasoline to contain a detergent additive to reduce the formation of deposits in motor vehicle engines. To knowingly sell or distribute gasoline without this additive is a violation of federal law.”
“Although BP and Mobil are aware of these laws, one or both of these oil companies violated the law and, at my request, the USEPA began an investigation of this matter in November of last year,” Faleomavaega said. “Because this has been an active and ongoing investigation, the USEPA has been limited in what it could say about this case.”
“However, I have been informed that as of June 2003 EPA Region 9 completed the investigative phase of my request and gathered and forwarded the evidence to USEPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. This means that the case has entered the penalty phase and I have written to the Administrator-Designate, Mr. Michael Leavitt, and requested his assistance in expediting the outcome.”
“In my letter dated October 24, 2003, I informed the Administrator that Exxon Mobil has admitted to my office that it failed to add federally required detergent additives to American Samoa’s gasoline supply for a period of two years or more. I also said that while I am appreciative that Exxon Mobil has admitted to wrong doing, I am disappointed that Exxon Mobil failed to make this admission until I called for an investigation.”
“Simply put, Exxon Mobil knew for a period of two years or more that it was supplying American Samoa with gasoline that did not meet federal requirements and at no time during this period did Exxon Mobil fully disclose that its gasoline was not compliant. I have informed the USEPA that I do not believe that it takes a corporation more than two years to determine whether or not its gasoline complies with federal law and I object to Exxon Mobil’s last minute attempt to admit to wrong doing in hopes that its penalty will be reduced if this case is accepted under the terms of self-disclosure.”
“Given that Exxon Mobil supplied American Samoa with gasoline that was not compliant and did so for a period of two years or more, I can only conclude that Exxon Mobil’s actions were intentional and fraudulent,” Congressman Faleomavaega said, “and I believe American Samoa should be compensated accordingly for damages incurred. At this time, it is my understanding that this case has entered into the penalty phase and USEPA is now considering what type of penalty to invoke.”
“As I understand it, the USEPA could require any and all fines to be paid to the USEPA and this money would then be deposited in the U.S. Treasury for federal use. The other penalty would require the guilty party or parties to compensate the American Samoa Government in some way that would be beneficial to the people who have been victimized by the actions of Exxon Mobil and/or BP.”
“Without question, I have informed the USEPA that I support a penalty which in some way compensates American Samoa. Although I understand that the USEPA has undergone a change in Administrators since I first requested an investigation surrounding this matter, I have asked the USEPA to expedite the penalty phase of this investigation and do right by the people and government of American Samoa. I am hopeful that Mr. Leavitt will support this request and will aggressively work to bring this case to a fair and expedited resolution,” the Congressman concluded.