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Injunctive and Declaratory Relief for States Under CERCLA

June 1988

Citation: 18 ELR 10216

Issue: 6

Author: Adam Babich and Kent E. Hanson

Editors' Summary: When Congress originally enacted CERCLA in 1980, it gave the state and federal governments a strong arsenal of tools to respond to actual or threatened releases of hazardous substances. CERCLA authorized state and federal governments to recover response costs and natural resource damages from responsible parties. However, CERCLA authorized only the federal government to obtain injunctive relief to compel responsible parties to perform remedial actions. States that were unwilling to spend their own money to clean up sites and later seek recovery from responsible parties were forced to rely on pendent jurisdiction and declaratory judgment actions to obtain prospective relief at CERCLA sites. The author reviews the methods that states pursued prior to SARA to obtain prospective relief. He then outlines how state-prosecuted actions should proceed after SARA, which gave states their own federal cause of action for injunctive relief.

Adam Babich is associated with the Denver, Colorado, law firm of McGuire, Cornwell & Blakey. He is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Colorado's CERCLA Litigation Section and a graduate of Yale Law School. Kent E. Hanson is counsel to McGuire, Cornwell & Blakey and the former First Assistant Attorney General of theState of Colorado's CERCLA Litigation Section. Mr. Hanson graduated from the University of Denver School of Law. The authors wish to thank the other members of Colorado Attorney General Duane Woodard's trial team in the 1987 trial in Colorado v. Idarado Mining Co., No. 83-C-2385 (D. Colo.), especially Michael C. Donovan, Carolyn L. Buchholz, and Shawn P. Mulligan.

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