Justices Weigh Property Rights Against Superfund Plans

By Joshua Frank and Martha Thomsen (December 6, 2019, 3:56 PM EST) -- In 1980, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA, to "promote the timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and ensure that the costs of such cleanup efforts were borne by those responsible for the contamination."[1]

Nearly four decades later, serious questions persist regarding the various statutory provisions by which CERCLA accomplishes those twin goals. On Dec. 3, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian,[2] a case poised to address one such lingering question: the extent to which CERCLA prevents collateral challenges to agency-selected cleanup plans.

The case has major implications...

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