House Superfund Reform Bill Passes Senate

Calling it overly narrow in approach, the Alliance of American Insurers has reiterated the need for a more comprehensive federal approach to hazardous waste than that offered in the Small Business Liability Relief Act (HR 1831) approved by the U.S. Senate recently.

“This is a positive but very small step forward,” said Kenneth Schloman, Alliance Washington counsel. “We need a more comprehensive approach to Superfund reform that removes more of the obstacles that now prevent cleaning up so many sites — matter what their type and ownership. Piecemeal solutions are a step forward, but my concern is that they create a false sense that we are fixing the problems in Superfund. A comprehensive review is still necessary.”

The legislation was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last May and now moves to the President for his signature. The bill makes available liability exemptions for businesses with no more than 100 employees that generate less than 110 gallons of liquid waste or 200 pounds of hazardous solid waste. Additional requirements relating to corporate behavior also apply. In another nod to small businesses, the bill codifies an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that requires the agency to consider a company’s ability to pay when negotiating a settlement.