EPA Administrator Christie Whitman praised the bipartisan sponsors of a new bill, the Small Business Liability Protection Act, which was introduced May 15 in the US House of Representatives. The bill is intended to limit some of liability imposed on Superfund sites.
"We have been encouraging Congress to enact legislation to assist EPA in providing relief to small businesses that were unfairly dragged into Superfund sites. This measure will promote cleanup and reduce needless lawsuits by drawing a bright line between large contributors of toxic waste and small businesses that disposed of small amounts of waste or ordinary trash," explained Whitman.
Because there is joint and several liability under the Superfund law, large polluters have tried to share the pain by extending their liability to small businesses. Multiplying lawsuits have diverted resources from cleanup. "The less litigation we have, the more likely we finish the job of cleaning up Superfund sites," said Whitman. "This legislation will reduce the time spent in court and increase the time spent cleaning the environment."
The bill is sponsored by Reps. Paul Gillmor (R-OH); Frank Pallone (D-NJ); John Duncan (R-TN); and Peter DeFazio (D-OR). It has widespread bipartisan support on both the Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.