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Bangor, City of v. Citizens Communications Co.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20168
Nos. Nos. 07-2193 et al., (1st Cir., 07/09/2008)

The First Circuit affirmed a lower court's entry of a consent decree allocating certain responsibilities among a city, the state of Maine, and a telecommunications company for the cleanup of a contaminated river bed in Maine under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. In addition to entering the decree, the city and the company, but not the state, entered into a private settlement agreement. The court first ruled that third- and fourth-party defendants had standing to challenge the decree because they are potentially affected by it. In addition, based on the state's expertise, the court chose to accord some deference to Maine's decision to sign onto the decree, but not the same amount of deference it would accord the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a consent decree involving the United States. As for the merits, the lower court's approval of the consent decree was proper. The court considered the private settlement agreement to the extent it was germane to the scrutiny required of the consent decree. No more was needed. Nor did the court abuse its discretion by finding the decree to be procedurally and substantively fair. And the consent decree complied with the National Environmental Policy Act.