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New York State Elec. & Gas Corp. v. FirstEnergy Corp.

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20119
Nos. No. 3:03-CV-0438, (N.D.N.Y., 05/11/2007)

The court held that New York's contribution statute may not be used as a surrogate for seeking contribution under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). A utility company commenced this action seeking to recover expenses it incurred remediating 24 hazardous waste sites formerly associated with manufactured gas plants operated by the utility and its predecessors. The utility filed claims under CERCLA and several state statutes, but only its New York contribution claim remains. The utility satisfied the prerequisites for seeking contribution under state law. Nevertheless, the claim is precluded by conflict preemption. Notwithstanding CERCLA's state-law savings clauses, allowing the utility to resort to state law would undermine the contribution and settlement scheme crafted by Congress when adopting CERCLA and would permit the recovery of duplicate damages or contribution where none is available under CERCLA, thereby presenting a classic case of conflict preemption.