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Volume [field_article_intvolume_value], Issue [field_article_intissue_value] — January 1988


The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act: An Explanation of Title III of Sara

by Joel R. Burcat and Arthur K. Hoffman

Traditionally, emergency planning and the regulation of public nuisances have been functions of local and state governments. The role of the federal government has been limited to planning for national and regional calamities, in areas other than hazardous chemical accidents, and the direct regulation of industry. The federal government has also been involved in responding to such calamities, including chemical accidents and post-accident cleanup. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA),1 enacted on October 17, 1986, is a significant first step toward a major federal role in areas previously regulated by state and local governments.

EPCRA represents a step in the evolution of federal law regarding the control of toxic substances and planning for emergencies caused by releases of those substances. In the 1970s, the federal government addressed the regulation of pesticides,2 the orderly handling and disposal of solid and hazardous substances,3 and regulation of the production of toxic substances.4 In 1980, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which specifically addressed emergency situations created by releases and threatened releases of hazardous substances.5 CERCLA also addressed the closure of abandoned hazardous waste facilities and the effects of those facilities on local communities.


The Environmental Challenge

by Al Gore

Editors' Summary: One of the most serious tasks Americans face in the near future is electing a president to lead the nation into the 1990s. Environmental law and policy are heavily influenced by the decisions made by elected officials and their senior appointees, and environmental issues should command close attention as voters and opinion leaders approach the 1988 election.

Environmental Law Reporter has invited several leading presidential candidates to present their views on environmental law and policy. This month, Al Gore describes the nation's traditional commitment to environmental protection, but concludes that the Reagan Administration gutted these programs during its early years. Even now, he says, the Environmental Protection Agency lacks true top-level support, and the next president must move vigorously to make up for lost time. Mr. Gore outlines areas on which to focus: law reform, hazardous waste, enforcement, better science, radon, wetlands, international issues such as ozone and the greenhouse effect, and land conservation and solid waste disposal. Central to environmental success, he observes, is presidential leadership with vision that reaches internationally and long into the future.