Tuesday, April 24, 2007

SCOTUS & Superfund

A case that could impact our region, as it deals with rocket fuel propellant caused pollution.

The Associated Press April 23, 2007, 9:19AM EST

Supreme Court to hear environmental case

The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider an environmental case Monday that could make it easier for many industrial companies to recover some of the millions of dollars they've spent cleaning up hazardous waste sites.

The case involves the 1980 federal environmental law, known as "Superfund," that set up a process for rehabilitating polluted industrial areas. Under the law, if the Environmental Protection Agency sues a company to force it to clean up a site, that company can then sue other parties that contributed to the pollution for a share of the cleanup costs.

But lower federal courts have disagreed about what happens if a company voluntarily chooses to clean up a site: can it sue other companies, or the U.S. government, to recover costs? Or does the Superfund law require a company to be sued by the EPA first, before it can take action against other parties?

The U.S. government has taken the latter position. The Bush administration argued in court filings that requiring companies to be sued by the EPA before they can recover costs from other entities encourages companies to settle with the government.