Energy and tort reform

The same week Congress rejected energy legislation stuffed with as much to regret as to cheer, it also served up a Medicare-reform bill brimming with heartburn. The measures had more in common than timing and complexity.Squirming among the roots of these unrelated initiatives was a national problem no one wanted to address before an election year: the burgeoning cost of litigation. Lawsuits—and the fear of them—loom too large in American life and politics.Concern by refiners over proliferating lawsuits involving methyl tertiary butyl ether influenced omnibus energy legislation more than it should have. The gasoline additive, which raises octane and provides the oxygen required...

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