By Michael O'Brien - 06/09/11 05:38 PM EDT
The Huntsman Corp. was never named in lawsuits by state attorneys general seeking recompense for the contamination, but it's become somewhat of a political touchstone for New Hampshire Republicans, whose support the former ambassador is counting on to mount his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who left the Senate when his term ended earlier this year, had long fought efforts to shield companies for liability in MTBE suits. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), when serving as state attorney general, had prosecuted a case against oil companies over MTBE. And former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) had boasted multiple times of his prosecution of MTBE manufacturers.
Of course, Huntsman Corp. is also a multibillion-dollar corporation with a vast number of subsidiaries and production responsibilities. Huntsman, then a vice chairman, praised the purchase of the division that produced the additive for its work toward "doubling our product capacities, sales and revenues" by the end of that decade.
It's also worth noting that Huntsman put his stake in the company into a blind trust in 2004 before divesting from the business in 2005.
But there have been other suggestions that MTBE could pose political risks for Huntsman; RealClearPolitics suggested earlier this week in a report that MTBE, a direct competitor to ethanol, was a contributing factor to Huntsman's decision to skip the Iowa caucuses. Huntsman's team disputed the report, saying that his opposition to ethanol subsidies had nothing to do with his family business's ties to MTBE.
Updated 3:37 p.m.