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McWherter Slams Haslam for Pilot Oil Environmental Violations

Press Release from Mike McWherter for Governor; Aug. 19, 2010:

NASHVILLE – According to documents obtained from State Environmental Departments, Pilot Oil Corporation has been cited for nearly 50 violations regarding negligent maintenance of underground storage tanks oftentimes resulting in groundwater contamination in Ohio, California, Indiana, New Jersey, Arizona and Tennessee.

In addition to state government agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency has cited Haslam’s oil company for over 20 violations, most of which relate to “effluent exceedance,” which concerns high levels of pollutants in and around storage sites. These developments help to explain why Haslam declined to respond to a questionnaire sent to him by the Tennessee Clean Water Network earlier this year.

“Clearly, Bill Haslam cannot separate his ownership of a billion dollar oil company from the interests of Tennesseans,” said Shelby White, spokesman for Mike McWherter. “His company’s poor environmental record indicates yet another reason why he is unfit to be governor of this state. Tennessee needs a Governor who looks out for its citizens and not for the profits of his family’s massive oil business.”

The documents raise questions concerning the Knoxville Mayor’s ability to neutrally govern the state of Tennessee. Given Pilot Oil’s problems with environmental agencies across the country, it is unlikely Bill Haslam would appoint unbiased, tough environmental regulators to hold his family’s company more accountable in Tennessee.

“How can we trust Mayor Haslam to objectively govern this state while his family’s billion dollar oil business incessantly skirts rules and regulations,” White commented. “Tennessee’s natural resources are its greatest assets and need to be protected. Mike is the only candidate committed to safeguarding our state’s water resources, which support thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in tourism revenue.”

Recently, Mayor Bill Haslam has been speaking to potential voters about his commitment to clean energy and his desire to pursue “homegrown” energy sources. While his statements initially appear to be genuine expressions of candor, they are in fact an attempt to whitewash his company’s tumultuous environmental record and rewrite the history of Pilot Oil.

“Tennessee is one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet and needs a governor who will serve as a steward of our natural resources,” added White. “Bill Haslam is more interested in oil profiteering than protecting our natural resources. We may sit on different sides of the aisle, but we all drink from the same source.”

As part of his campaign platform, the Mayor of Knoxville has often claimed he grew thousands of jobs in his leadership role at Pilot. If he is willing to take credit for mergers and buyouts engineered by his father and brother, then he also assumes responsibility for Pilot Oil’s extensive list of environmental violations and persistent refusal to effectively combat groundwater contamination across the nation.

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