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The Supreme Court Opens a Door in Arco v. Christian, Part One

March 2021

Citation: 51 ELR 10226

Issue: 3

Author: Charles Openchowski

In its Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the timing of judicial review in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), as well as landowners’ status as potentially responsible parties for property within the boundaries of a Superfund site. The Court, however, left preemption issues raised by the parties for another day. This Article analyzes the opinion in light of the site’s long history, and offers insights on how it might affect the federal cleanup program going forward. The first part, published here, describes the response actions that have been taken, as well as the litigation brought by landowners seeking more remediation. The second part, which will appear next issue, focuses on the role of state law and how it can serve as a platform for enhancing CERCLA cleanups.

Charles Openchowski is a Senior Attorney in the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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