Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (07/20/2000)

Land Recycling Act of 1999 - Title I: Land Recycling - Prohibits, with exceptions, the President and any person other than a State from using specified authorities of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) or the Solid Waste Disposal Act to commence an administrative or judicial action with respect to a release or threatened release at a facility that is, or has been, the subject of a response action pursuant to a State program submitted to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) together with a certification by the State that: (1) the State has enacted such program into law and committed the necessary financial and personnel resources to carry out the program; and (2) such program will be implemented in a manner protective of human health and the environment and includes meaningful opportunities for public participation.

Provides that no Federal permit or permit revision shall be required for the on-site portion of response actions subject to such prohibition.

Requires the Administrator to provide assistance to States for establishing such programs.

(Sec.103) Amends CERCLA to permit the President to add a facility to the National Priorities List (NPL) only with the concurrence of the Governor of the State in which the facility is located. Authorizes the President, notwithstanding such condition, to add a facility to the NPL if: (1) the release or threatened release affects public health or the environment in more than one State, unless the Governors of each such State fail to concur, upon presidential request, in the listing of the site; or (2) the State where the facility is located is a major potentially responsible party (PRP) at the facility.

(Sec. 104) Amends CERCLA, with respect to defenses to liability of an owner of after-acquired property, to deem a person to have made (under current law, "undertaken") appropriate inquiry into the property's previous ownership and uses if the person establishes that an environmental site assessment was conducted which meets specified requirements (compliance with an American Society for Testing and Materials standard or with standards issued by the Administrator) and the person fulfills certain responsibilities concerning information compilation.

(Sec. 105) Absolves from liability for response actions bona fide prospective purchasers to the extent liability at a facility for a release or threat thereof is based solely on ownership or operation of a facility. Gives a lien upon a facility to the United States for unrecovered response costs in any case in which there are such unrecovered costs for which the owner is not liable by reason of this section and the facility's fair market value has increased above that which existed six months before the action was taken.

(Sec. 106) Absolves of liability for response costs and damages certain owners or operators that are State or local governments that acquired property involuntarily, or through eminent domain or the granting of a license or permit to conduct business, if such governments: (1) acquired the affected facility after the disposal or placement of the hazardous substances for which liability is alleged; (2) did not cause or contribute to the hazardous substance release; and (3) exercised appropriate care with respect to such substances.

(Sec. 107) Exempts from liability certain owners or operators of real property contiguous to property on which there has been a release or threat thereof. Authorizes the President to grant such persons an assurance of no enforcement action and protection against cost recovery and contribution actions.

(Sec. 108) Revises provisions regarding the degree of cleanup for hazardous substances that will remain on-site to provide that remedial actions for such substances shall require a level or standard of control which achieves Maximum Contaminant Levels (currently, Maximum Contaminant Level Goals) under the Safe Drinking Water Act where such levels are appropriate under the circumstances of the release considering the timing of any anticipated use of water as drinking water and reasonable points of compliance. Removes a requirement regarding achievement of certain water quality criteria under the Clean Water Act by such actions.

Requires risk assessments and characterizations conducted for such actions and for other significant Federal actions under CERCLA to: (1) provide scientifically objective assessments, estimates, and characterizations which neither minimize nor exaggerate the nature and magnitude of health and environmental risks; (2) be based on the best available scientific and technical information; and (3) be based on an analysis of the weight of scientific evidence that supports conclusions about a problem's potential risks to health and the environment.

Directs the President to use site-specific risk assessment to: (1) determine the nature and extent of risk to human health and the environment; (2) identify groups which are currently, or would be, highly exposed or susceptible to contamination, based on current and reasonably anticipated uses of land, water, and other resources, or to risks arising from implementation of a remedial option; (3) assist in establishing remedial objectives for the facility respecting releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances and in identifying geographic areas or exposure pathways of concern; and (4) evaluate alternative remedial actions for a facility to determine their risk reduction benefits.

Directs the President to conduct a study of the cancer potency values of 12 specified hazardous substances frequently found to pose significant risks at NPL facilities.

Requires the President to make a scientifically objective assessment of different methodologies for determining the health effects of chemical mixtures at relevant doses based on reasonable exposure scenarios at NPL facilities.

(Sec. 109) Directs the President to establish a program to provide grants to eligible States or political subdivisions, including Indian tribes, for: (1) inventory and assessment of brownfield facilities; and (2) capitalization of revolving loan funds for remedial actions at such facilities. Defines a "brownfield facility" as real property with respect to which expansion or redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance.

Authorizes appropriations.

Title II: Expenditures From the Hazardous Substance Superfund - Revises the list of activities for which expenditures from Hazardous Substance Superfund are authorized. Permits the President to use Superfund monies for administrative costs directly related to the costs of authorized activities.

Bars the use of Superfund for response actions that are not removal actions with respect to non-NPL facilities.

Repeals provisions regarding the assumption of certain liability by the Post-closure Liability Fund.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes appropriations to Superfund for FY 2000 through 2004.

(Sec. 203) Authorizes appropriations for an independent analysis of the projected ten-year costs to EPA of implementing the programs authorized by CERCLA. Requires such cost analysis to be conducted by a neutral, nongovernmental organization with expertise in CERCLA.

Title III: Liability Reform - Absolves of liability for response costs and damages owners or operators who inherited the property concerned if such persons: (1) acquired the affected facility after the disposal or placement of the hazardous substances for which liability is alleged; (2) did not cause or contribute to the hazardous substance release; and (3) exercised appropriate care with respect to such substance. Limits liability for owners or operators who meet such conditions and received the property as a charitable donation.

Exempts from liability: (1) owners or operators of rights-of-way over which hazardous substances are transported or are otherwise present if such persons did not cause or contribute to the release concerned; (2) railroad owners or operators of spur tracks whose tracks meet specified conditions and who did not cause or contribute to the release concerned; and (3) construction contractors whose liability is based solely on construction contract activities and who did not know of the presence of hazardous substances and exercised appropriate care with respect to such substances.

Requires the Administrator to seek to minimize the administrative and legal burdens on parties that are not liable. Directs the Administrator to: (1) inform such parties that they are exempted from liability and offer them written assurances establishing their exempt status; and (2) eliminate or minimize the need for such parties to retain legal counsel in connection with proceedings concerning the facility at issue.

(Sec. 303) Subjects each department, agency, and instrumentality of the Federal Government to all Federal, State, interstate, and local requirements regarding response or restoration actions related to releases or potential releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants (current law refers only to compliance with CERCLA provisions) in the same manner and to the same extent as a nongovernmental entity. Waives any U.S. immunity otherwise applicable with respect to any such requirement.

Authorizes the Administrator to issue an abatement order to a Federal entity and requires initiation of an administrative enforcement action in the same manner and under the same circumstances as action would be initiated against any other person.

Removes provisions for application (and preemption) of State laws concerning removal and remedial action at Federal facilities not on the NPL.

(Sec. 304) Exempts certain small business concerns from liability under provisions governing arrangement, acceptance, or transport of hazardous substances for response costs or damages at an NPL facility with respect to actions taken before September 29, 1999. Provides an additional exemption from liability under such provisions for persons arranging or transporting municipal solid waste (MSW) or municipal sewage sludge prior to this Act's enactment for disposal at an NPL landfill facility, with exceptions. Limits liability for persons engaging in such activities after this Act's enactment date to ten percent of response costs at such a landfill facility. Provides for expedited final settlements, in lieu of the aggregate ten percent liability limitation, based on the average unit cost of remediating MSW and municipal sewage sludge in such landfills.

Exempts certain owners, operators, or lessees of residential property, small businesses, and tax-exempt organizations from liability for response costs or damages under arrangement, acceptance, or transport provisions with respect to the arrangement or transport of MSW for disposal at an NPL landfill facility.

Makes municipalities currently liable for response costs on the basis of ownership or operation of a municipal landfill listed on the NPL on or before September 1, 1999, eligible for settlements. Limits liability to 20 percent of total response costs, but authorizes the President to increase such percentage to up to 35 percent under certain conditions. Authorizes the President to require such municipalities to perform or participate in response actions at the site. Considers two or more municipalities that jointly own or operate a facility to be a single owner for purposes of calculating settlement offers. Authorizes the President to require such municipalities to waive some or all claims or causes of action against other PRPs with respect to a site.

Sets forth cases in which the President may decline to offer such settlements.

Provides a de micromis exemption to liability under arrangement, acceptance, or transport provisions in cases where less than 110 gallons or 200 pounds of materials containing hazardous substances are attributable to any one person at an NPL facility before this Act's enactment.

Requires the Superfund to assume the liability for certain exempt parties or those subject to limited liability for releases from NPL facilities.

(Sec. 305) Expands the exemption from liability for response action contractors to include exemption from liability under State or local law unless a State has enacted a law determining liability of such contractors.

Extends certain indemnification agreements made by the President with respect to negligence of response action contractors to any claims for negligence arising under State or local law.

(Sec. 306) Requires (current law authorizes) the President to offer PRPs (currently, any person)

who enter into settlement agreements that are in the public interest a final covenant not to sue concerning liability to the United States for response actions or costs, provided that: (1) the settling party agrees to perform a final remedial action for the release that is the subject of the settlement; (2) the agreement has been reached prior to the commencement of litigation against the settling party; (3) the settling party waives all contribution rights against other PRPs at the facility; (4) the settling party, other than a small business, pays a premium that compensates for the risks of remedy failure, future liability, and unanticipated increases in the cost of any uncompleted action (unless the party is performing the action); (5) the remedial action does not rely on institutional controls to ensure continued health and environmental protection; and (6) the settlement is otherwise acceptable to the United States.

Authorizes the President, for settlements for which covenants are unavailable, to provide any person with a covenant not to sue concerning any liability to the United States if the covenant not to sue is in the public interest.

Makes PRPs who are natural persons, small businesses, or municipalities with a demonstrated limited ability to pay response costs eligible for expedited settlements. Absolves a small business of liability if the President does not make a settlement offer within the later of: (1) 180 days of determining that such party is eligible for an expedited settlement; or(2) this Act's enactment date.

Sets forth appeal and judicial procedures in cases where a settlement is denied.

(Sec. 307) Absolves persons (other than owners or operators) who arranged for the recycling of recyclable material or who transported such material from general liability under CERCLA.

Deems transactions involving recyclable materials that consist of scrap paper, plastic, glass, textiles, or rubber to be arranging for recycling if the person who arranged the transaction demonstrates that: (1) the recyclable material met a commercial specification grade and a market existed for the material; (2) a substantial portion of the material was made available for use as a feedstock for the manufacture of a new saleable product; (3) the material (or product made from the material) could have been a replacement for a virgin raw material; and (4) with respect to transactions occurring 90 days after this Act's enactment, the person exercised reasonable care to determine that the facility where the material would be managed by another was in compliance with Federal, State, or local environmental laws or regulations.

Deems transactions involving recyclable materials that consist of scrap metal to be arranging for recycling if the person who arranged the transaction demonstrates that: (1) the criteria for scrap materials were met; (2) he or she complied with applicable standards regarding activities associated with the recycling of scrap metals; and (3) the scrap metal was not melted prior to the transaction.

Deems transactions involving recyclable materials that consist of spent lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, or other batteries to be arranging for recycling if the person involved demonstrates that: (1) the criteria for scrap materials were met; and (2) he or she complied with applicable Federal environmental standards regarding such batteries.

Makes the exemptions from liability inapplicable if the person: (1) had an objectively reasonable basis to believe at the time of the recycling transaction that the recyclable material would not be recycled or would be burned as fuel or for energy recovery or incineration or that the consuming facility was not in compliance with Federal, State, or local environmental laws or regulations; (2) had reason to believe that hazardous substances had been added to the material for purposes other than processing for recycling; or (3) failed to exercise reasonable care with respect to the management of the material.

(Sec. 308) Sets forth provisions regarding an allocation process to determine equitable allocations of the costs of removal or remedial actions at eligible NPL facilities. Makes an action eligible for allocation if the action is at an NPL facility and: (1) the performance of such action is not the subject of a consent decree or an administrative order as of September 29, 1999; (2) the President's estimate of the cost of such action that has not been recovered by such date exceeds $2 million; and (3) there are response costs attributable to the Superfund share. Makes an action ineligible for allocation if: (1) the facility is located on a contiguous area of real property under common ownership or control; and (2) all of the potentially liable parties are current or former owners or operators of such facility, unless the current owner is insolvent or defunct.

Sets forth requirements for the President in initiating the allocation process. Authorizes the President to initiate an allocation for any removal or remedial action at an NPL facility. Provides for selection of a neutral allocator selected by agreement of the parties.

Entitles the Administrator or the Attorney General, as representatives of Superfund, and any State that may be responsible for costs, to participate in allocation proceedings.

Places a moratorium on litigation seeking recovery of response costs or contributions in connection with actions for which the President has initiated allocations until 150 days after issuance of the allocator's report or of a report under this section. Stays pending actions or claims, including those under State law, until such prescribed period unless the court determines that a stay will result in manifest injustice.

Sets forth procedures for the allocation of response costs to Superfund by the allocator. Divides unattributable shares pro rata among the PRPs and Superfund.

Authorizes a group of PRPs to submit a private allocation to the allocator. Requires the allocator to adopt such allocation as the allocation report if: (1) the allocation is a binding allocation of at least 80 percent of the past, present, and future costs of the action; (2) the allocation does not allocate a share to a person who is not a signatory to the allocation; and (3) the allocation signatories waive their rights to seek recovery of removal or remedial costs or contribution with respect to the action from any other party at the facility.

Sets forth requirements for accepting settlements based on allocations. Makes such requirements inapplicable if the Administrator and the Attorney General reject the allocation report.

Sets forth conditions under which parties who satisfactorily perform a removal or remedial action eligible for allocation under an administrative abatement action order shall be entitled to reimbursement for the costs of the action performed in excess of the share allocated.

(Sec. 309) Provides that the maximum level of remediation for a dry cleaning solvent in the soil, surface water, groundwater, and other environmental media (other than for water used as a drinking water source) that may be required of a dry cleaner shall be equal to: (1) the soil screening level for inhalation for such solvent determined in accordance with the Soil Screening Guidance Document (Guidance Document) developed by the EPA; or (2) the generic soil screening level for inhalation for such solvent as set forth in the Guidance Document until such maximum level is determined for a facility.

Requires the applicable requirements for dry cleaning solvents under CERCLA to be the remediation standards set forth in this section.

Authorizes the EPA Administrator to change such standards in accordance with any revised Guidance Document if necessary to protect health or the environment.

Title IV: Public Health - Requires the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Administrator to develop and distribute educational materials on human health effects of hazardous substances to the public.

Authorizes the ATSDR Administrator to provide grant or contract assistance to individuals who may be affected by releases or threatened releases when: (1) a public health assessment is conducted at an NPL facility; or (2) a facility is being evaluated for inclusion on the NPL.

Authorizes and directs the ATSDR Administrator, pursuant to such grants or contracts, to provide diagnostic services, health data registries, and preventative public health education to communities affected by such releases.

(Sec. 404) Requires the President, in setting priorities for remedial action under the national hazardous substance response plan (part of the national contingency plan for the removal of oil and hazardous substances), to place highest priority on facilities with releases resulting in actual ongoing human exposures at levels of public health concern or demonstrated adverse effects.

(Sec. 405) Requires the President to make information relating to response actions at facilities that have been listed or proposed for listing on the NPL available to the public throughout phases of a response action.