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Achieving “Some” Upfront Certainty and Resolve in Superfund Settlements

Superfund practitioners are waiting to see whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will designate perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate, two chemicals in the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) group, as CERCLA hazardous substances. Such a designation may lead to selected remedies being modified and further work being required at Superfund sites where remedies were believed to be complete. This Article explores potential future liability by reviewing provisions of the 2021 Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA) Model Consent Decree.

Recycling Is Rubbish: Reinvent, Realign, and Restructure U.S. Material Management

The United States currently does not have capacity to recycle its waste domestically, nor can it export the amount of waste it once did. Many states are trying to solve this crisis through novel legislation, but states cannot solve this crisis on their own. This Article argues that the federal government should take the lead in developing new law and policy designed to increase national recycling rates.

The U.S. Plastics Problem: The Road to Circularity

Plastics pollution has been an issue in the United States since discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch catapulted it to the forefront of news reporting. Regulatory and academic activity around plastics has had a common feature: it focused almost exclusively on one stage in plastics’ linear model and framed the problem as a waste problem.

Patching a Persistent Problem: PFAS and RCRA’s Citizen Suit Provision

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a toxic, environmentally persistent class of chemicals that have been used widely in consumer products. Despite growing evidence of adverse health effects associated with PFAS exposure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not yet promulgated a legally enforceable standard for any of the individual chemicals in the PFAS group. This has resulted in largely unrestricted disposal of PFAS waste and dispersal of these persistent chemicals throughout the environment.

Managing Marine Litter

Marine litter is human-created waste that has been discharged into the marine environment, including glass, metal, plastics, and other debris. According to data compiled by the United Nations, the equivalent of a garbage truck filled with plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute—more than 8 million metric tons per year. On November 11, 2019, the Environmental Law Institute hosted an expert panel that explored recent U.S.

Should We Ban Single-Use Plastics?

Millions of tons of plastic enter the environment every year, killing wildlife, releasing toxins, clogging drains, and marring landscapes. Bans or restrictions on single-use plastics have exploded in popularity in recent years as a means of addressing these problems. Yet these bans remain controversial, with some businesses pushing back against what they consider excessive regulation and others maintaining that banning single-use plastics uses political capital that could be spent advancing more urgent and systemic agendas.

Lessons Learned From the Intersection of CERCLA and Contract Law

In Blasland, Bouck & Lee, Inc. v. City of North Miami, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed two significant issues involving the interrelationship between Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost recovery actions and contract law. These issues, and the way the court addressed them, highlight problems for drafters of both commercial contracts and partial settlement releases, which if not carefully done can frustrate the intentions of the parties and cause significant economic loss to at least one of them.

Are Citizen Suits CERCLA §113(h)'s Unintended Victims?

Editors' Summary: CERCLA §113(h), with some exceptions, prohibits legal challenges to response actions until the cleanup at a Superfund site is completed. While the section's sponsors hoped to prevent potentially responsible parties (PRPs) from using such challenges to delay their financial responsibilities, several federal courts have held that §113(h) also bars citizen suits brought to enforce the FWPCA, RCRA, and other environmental laws at Superfund sites.