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New Jersey v. United States

Citation: 12 ELR 20184
No. No. 81-945, 16 ERC 1846/(D.D.C., 11/10/1981)

The district court dismisses the State of New Jersey's lawsuit seeking a declaration that provisions of the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (SCCA) are not preempted by § 114(c) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The SCCA authorizes the state to collect taxes from petroleum and chemical industries located within the state in order to maintain the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund. The court rules that New Jersey is not threatened with imminent federal action against its program since the United States has not taken a position on § 114(c) of CERCLA that could be construed as adverse to the state's program. In addition, the state is under no obligation to comply with § 114(c) and is not currently refraining from any activity because of that section. Furthermore, New Jersey is currently involved in litigation in the New Jersey courts in which four corporations are alleging that the SCCA is preempted by CERCLA. Therefore, the state is guaranteed a judicial ruling on the legality of its taxes and will not be tangibly harmed by the court's refusal to reach the merits of this dispute.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Mary C. Jacobson, Deputy Attorney General
36 W. State St., Trenton NJ 08625
(609) 292-4353

Counsel for Defendants
Nancy L. Long
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5260

Counsel for Intervenor Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
Frances Dubrowski
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
1725 I St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 223-8210

Counsel for Intervenor Chemical Manufacturers Ass'n
Roberts B. Owen
Covington & Burling
888 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 452-6000