Wiliam Goldfarb


In the anti-regulatory climate that currently pervades the American political scene, it is important to emphasize the palpable and significant accomplishments of environmental regulation. One measure of the success of environmental law during the past twenty-five years is that long-term, relatively localized environmental contamination-such as the pollution of the lower James River by Kepone between 1966 and 1975-probably can no longer occur in the United States. Major environmental statutes, enacted during the decade between 1976 and 1986, have precluded continuing environmental abuses of this scope and magnitude. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, establishes a compre- hensive system for tracking and managing hazardous wastes from "cradle to grave." The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) passed in 1980 and extensively amended in 1986, erects an administrative mechanism for cleaning up certain hazardous waste disposal sites and, where possible, allocating responsibility jointly and severally for the expenses of response and remediation to generators, transporters, treaters, storers, and disposers of hazardous wastes. Title III of the SARA amendments of 1986 (also known as the Emergency Planning And Community Right-To-Know Act) requires that information about the use, location, and release of over three hundred hazardous chemicals be reported to local, state, and federal authorities. These and other federal statutes, along with their state counterparts, assure that another Kepone-type incident is not likely to occur again in the United States.