Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Environmental Protection Agency may enter into an agreement either to finance the cleanup of hazardous waste sites or to limit the liability of certain parties that may be responsible for the damage at the site in question. These agreements, referred to as consent decrees, generally contain provisions that protect the signing polluters from contribution claims brought by non-settling parties. This Case Note addresses whether non-settling parties should be able to move to intervene in a consent decree under a statutory right of contribution. On this issue, the courts are split. One line of reasoning holds that a non-settling party may not intervene because such an action would interfere with congressional intent. The converse line of reasoning holds that a non-settling party may intervene to protect its claim of contribution. The Case Note examines United States v. Union Electric, a leading case recently decided by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that a party may intervene to protect a contribution claim. United States v. Alcan Aluminum, Inc., a leading case from the Third Circuit holding to the contrary, is also discussed. The author concludes that the ruling of Union Electric has a more logical analysis and that the denial of intervention to non-settling parties is an incorrect interpretation of the present law.
Recommended CitationJoseph F. Mahoney, Allowing Intervention by Non-Settling PRPS: Not the Environmentally Correct Decision, But One That Is Unavoidable?, 14 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 733 (1997)
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