March 01, 2014

Burlington Northern: CERCLA and Its Ever-Changing, Unpredictable Landscape

Greg DeGulis and Sarah Gable

Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 USC 9601, in 1980 to address releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances. The statute provides strict liability against certain classes of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) but was silent on how such liability should be allocated among parties. Because of this lack of statutory guidance, CERCLA has been heavily litigated, including several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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