Rethinking the Role of Federal Law in Private Cleanup Cost Disputes

Aronovsky, Ronald G.
February 2006
Ecology Law Quarterly;2006, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Voluntary cleanups are essential to addressing the hundreds of thousands of contaminated sites that still require remediation in the United States, as government agencies lack the resources to conduct these cleanups themselves or to file thousands of lawsuits compelling private party cleanups. Most sites have been contaminated by the acts of more than one potentially responsible party (PRP). For two decades, PRPs voluntarily cleaned up sites assuming they could then seek cleanup cost contribution from other PRPs under CERCLA (the "Superfund" statute). The December 2004 US. Supreme Court decision in Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Aviall Services, Inc. caused a sea change in environmental law, upsetting the reliance interests of regulatory agencies and PRPs by holding that a PRP in most situations cannot sue other PRPs for their fair share of cleanup costs under CERCLA 's contribution provision. After Aviall, federal law may no longer play any role in most private cleanup cost disputes. This Article examines the federalism consequences of the Aviall decision. The Article explores whether federal or state law should serve as the primary rule of decision in private cleanup cost disputes, concluding that a uniform federal rule of decision remains superior to the incoherent patchwork quilt of current state law remedies as a tool for facilitating voluntary cleanups. It further concludes that a private CERCLA cleanup cost remedy should provide a "safety net" assuring the availability of cleanup cost contribution rights to PRPs in every state without broadly preempting potentially available state law remedies.


Related Articles

  • Import Laws in Effect. Ursery, Stephen // Waste Age;Dec2004, Vol. 35 Issue 12, p4 

    Reports on a lawsuit filed by the National Solid Wastes Management Association challenging the implementation of the trash import laws in Michigan. Provisions of the trash import laws signed by Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm in March 2004; Contention of the NSWMA on the constitutionality...

  • Industry Sues State Over Canada Cargo. Hall, Rebekah; Schenkman, Lynn // Waste Age;Oct2003, Vol. 34 Issue 10, p4 

    Reports on a lawsuit filed by the National Solid Waste Management Association and the Michigan network of Republic Services against Wayne County, Michigan and its executive Robert Ficano for passing a law attempting to restrict thrash flow from Canada to Michigan. Efforts in the state to keep...

  • Don't listen to Sam; hold firm on Superfund. Brostoff, Steven // National Underwriter / Property & Casualty Risk & Benefits Manag;8/28/95, Vol. 99 Issue 35, p10 

    Focuses on the proposal to repeal retroactive liability only for municipal co-disposal sites and retain the Superfund Act's financing system. Political issues; Litigation concerns; Consideration on compromising on Superfund.

  • Canada as a role model.  // Waste News;03/29/99, Vol. 4 Issue 46, p8 

    Editorial. Focuses on waste legislation in Canada and the country's philosophical differences with the United States. Diversion target established by Canada for 2000; Government spending and local support for the diversion target.

  • Strict liability of individuals under CERCLA: A normative analysis. Oswald, Lynda J. // Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review;Summer93, Vol. 20 Issue 4, p579 

    Addresses the issue of whether corporate officers and individual shareholders should be held statutorily liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). CERCLA as a solution to problems posed by hazardous waste disposal; Congress' intent of the...

  • Superfund is a super mess for one small-business owner. Faris, Jack // Enterprise/Salt Lake City;05/19/97, Vol. 26 Issue 47, p22 

    Comments on the involvement of SunnyRay Restaurant in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in a lawsuit under the United States Superfund law. Hauling of restaurant trash to a state-approved landfill; Reclassification of landfill as Superfund site; Flaws in the Superfund law; Possible loss of business;...

  • Point of Odor. Shanoff, Barry // Waste Age;Dec2004, Vol. 35 Issue 12, p12 

    Discusses a lawsuit filed by Thurston County against mushroom farm operator Ostrom Co. over nuisance and negligence claims in Washington. Facts of the case; Reason behind the dismissal of the case; Relevance of the Right-to-Farm Act to the case.

  • AT DEADLINE.  // Waste News;01/29/2001, Vol. 6 Issue 35, p1 

    Reports that Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton proposed legislation which requires mandatory garbage pickup for every household in the state.

  • Exporting Waste Material: Compatibility of EU and UK Regulations. Madhloom, Laura // Journal of Criminal Law;Feb2012, Vol. 76 Issue 1, p6 

    The article presents information on cases concerning transporting or attempting to transport waste that were destined for recovery in a foreign country contrary to the rules specified in the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 Act in Great Britain. The issue before the Court of...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics