Clinton’s Vote On Water Protection Surfaces After Winning Votes In Town Tainted With MTBE, Will It Matter In Michigan?

Hillary Clinton hopes to take Michigan delegates at the primary on Tuesday and has focused on the Flint water crisis while campaigning in the Great Lakes State. Michiganders are in an uproar over the state’s negligence in protecting Flint residents from lead in the drinking water and are only now learning that Clinton, as a New York senator, voted against a measure to prevent water pollution.

Clinton voted against a measure that would phase out a dangerous chemical known as MTBE. People in many areas around the country have been drinking MTBE-contaminated water. Carlisle, Massachusetts is one of those places. Voters in Carlisle, Massachusetts, chose Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders at their Democratic primary by a margin of 185 people, according to the local paper, but Clinton’s earlier vote against water purity had not been spotlighted at the time of the Massachusetts’ primary. Would it have mattered? Will it matter in Michigan?

A report spotlighting Hillary Clinton’s vote against the groundwater protection measure grew viral after the Massachusetts primary, but just before Michigan voters head to the polls on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton showed concern over Flint’s water supply and told NPR, “The idea that you would have a community in the United States of America of nearly 100,000 people who were drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water infuriates me.”

International Business Times called Clinton out on Friday, just days after Massachusetts’ primary and days before Michigan’s primary.

“But despite that rhetoric, the issue of clean water may be politically perilous for the leading Democratic candidate, thanks to her vote against banning a possible carcinogen at the center of one of the largest water pollution scandals in recent history.”

Clinton opposed a 2005 measure to phase out the chemical, but according to the report, “one major company producing the chemical also tried to use provisions in a trade deal backed by Hillary Clinton to force local governments in the United States to let it continue selling the toxic compound” and ExxonMobil became a major Clinton Foundation donor. International Business Times reported that Clinton cast her vote against the measure to protect groundwater from MTBE contamination in the middle of a re-election campaign in which she received over $74,000 from the oil and gas industry.

Clinton’s vote against banning MTBE is cited as an issue that could come back to haunt her as one of the issues that could end up costing her votes as she runs for president. In Napoleon Township, Michigan 60,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from a terminal contaminating the groundwater with MTBE, which is still affecting the water in the Michigan township, according to MLIVE.


MTBE is a colorless liquid that can contaminate ground water that has been used since 1979 primarily as a gasoline additive. MTBE dissolves easily in water and persists in ground water for decades. According to the Carlisle Mosquito, over the next three decades, the nationwide cost of MTBE cleanup like the cleanup that has burdened Carlisle, could be as high as $3 billion.

Mary Hult wrote in the Carlisle Mosquito that Santa Monica, California, was at one time forced to shut down seven wells because they were contaminated with MTBE. Hult wrote that MTBE has been detected in 65 public drinking water supplies in New Jersey and 100 public water supplies in Long Island, New York.

“MTBE has been detected in varying levels in groundwater in 49 states.”

Hillary Clinton’s vote against protecting drinking water from MTBE was not in the spotlight when voters in Carlisle chose her in their primary. Some analysts worry that the spotlight on her earlier vote could cost her delegates in areas of the country where safe drinking water is a hot topic, such as Flint, Michigan. According to Politico, Hillary Clinton was leading Bernie Sanders by 17 points before Sunday night’s debate in Flint.

[Image via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers]