Superfund and the Preemption of State Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Exxon Corporation v. Hunt {106 S. Ct. 1103}

Abstract

The growing concern over hazardous waste' has led many states and the federal government to enact emergency response and cleanup statutes. The sources of funding for these cleanup measures include taxes, general revenues, fines, bond forfeitures, and recoveries from liable parties. The funds are then utilized in emergency situations and in remedying general problems. The New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Fund or SCCA) is an example of one such state statute. Under federal legislation known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund or CERCLA), states are allowed to conduct fund raising and cleanup activities to combat hazardous waste. CERCLA also, however, preempts state activities and the extent of the preemption is not always clear. CERCLA and SCCA both utilize a front-end tax to cover the costs of hazardous waste cleanup. In Exxon Corporation v. Hunt the United States Supreme Court examined the language and congressional intent of CERCLA's taxing provision and held that the federal statute partially preempted New Jersey's front-end tax.

Keywords

Exclusive & concurrent legislative powers, Hazardous waste site remediation

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Gary E. Cooke III (Washington University School of Law)

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