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Dodging a Bullet: Lessons From the Failed Hazardous Substance Recycling Rider to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill

March 1999

Citation: 29 ELR 10139

Issue: 3

Author: Adam Babich

Editors' Summary: It has become regular practice for federal legislators to insert into annual appropriations bills riders having little to do with the appropriations process. Last year, under the sponsorship of the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, a bill that would have exempted recyclers from CERCLA "arranger" and "transporter" liability was almost enacted as a rider to the omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 1999. This Dialogue examines that rider and the changes it would have wrought to CERCLA. The Dialogue begins with a description of the rider's provisions, then analyzes the policy behind exempting recyclers from CERCLA liability. The Dialogue then examines the rider's distinction between certain kinds of CERCLA violations, as well as the likely impact of the rider's attorney fees provision and the consequences the rider's recycler exemption would have had for other liable parties. Finally, the Dialogue evaluates the rider's approach of exempting a particular type of party from liability without engaging in more comprehensive reform of the Superfund statute.

Adam Babich practices environmental law with the Chicago office of Zevnik Horton Guibord McGovern Palmer & Fognani. He was ELRThe Environmental Law Reporter's editor-in-chief from 1993 until 1997. From 1984 through 1987, he was an Assistant Attorney General in then-Colorado Attorney General Duane L. Woodard's CERCLA Litigation Section. His practice has included representation of a client opposed to enactment of the recycling exemption discussed in this Dialogue.

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