September 17, 2019 Articles

RCRA Citizen Suits: Climate Change Risk and Expanding Endangerment

RCRA endangerment suits are a powerful tool for environmental groups and private citizens seeking to fill the absence of federal environmental enforcement and regulation.

By Edward C. Lewis and H. Joseph Drapalski

Perceptions that the Trump administration has focused on environmental deregulation and reduced enforcement have led to increased private enforcement through environmental citizen suits. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) has become one of the vehicles of choice for environmental citizen suits, with the use of the RCRA’s endangerment suit provision expanding rapidly as a result. This expansion causes significant uncertainty and exposes entities otherwise in compliance with environmental laws to lawsuits threating substantial penalties and costly injunctive relief.

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