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Why This Matters: When the EPA cares more about protecting a polluting company and limiting its liability than protecting the innocent victims of that toxic pollution from harm, federal “pre-emption” of state law claims can actually frustrate the intent of the statute — which was to make the polluters pay for the clean up of their toxic contamination. The law also bars victims from “double recovery” and it gives polluters who step up to their responsibility to clean up a site the benefit of finality and an end to litigation. But what happens when the EPA’s settlement is too lax and poor communities are burdened with lingering contamination and health problems? It is unlikely that a rich community would get a raw deal from EPA. But the country is riddled with poor communities that for a myriad of reasons do not get the same level of protection from our environmental laws/agencies. It may be the law, but that does not make it right.
The Supreme Court case involved whether to let stand a Montana Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Opportunity Residents that held that the federal Superfund law does not override this state’s constitutionally guaranteed right to a “clean and healthful environment.” The lawyers for ARCO argued that the community of Opportunity should not be able to use state law to force the company to clean up the site in a way that conflicts with the EPA cleanup plan. They claim that if a community was allowed to impose its “own piecemeal hazardous waste cleanup” it would undermine EPA’s authority to implement a cleanup plan the agency deems appropriate to protect human health and the environment. But that begs the question — what if the EPA does not adequately protect human health and the environment? One of the town residents put it this way to The Post, “We only have one lifetime, and the corporations have forever. We just want our yard to be clean and healthy for our kids.”
To Go Deeper:Click here for an excellent summary of the legal arguments in the case by our pals at SCOTUSblog.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Pedro Bay Corp., an Alaska Native group, has struck a blow to the controversial Pebble Mine project, which had promised to be the largest gold mine in North America. Located near Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay, development on the site threatened to damage the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, […]
A battle is raging in Nevada as the U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service announces it will be listing Tiehm’s buckwheat flower as an endangered species, striking a blow to a lithium mining project in the region. Lithium is required for the batteries that power electric vehicles, which the government is making significant investments in to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. But environmentalists argue that the Rhyolite Ridge lithium mine in Nevada will do more harm than good.
Why This Matters: The world is facing two major crises: global temperature rise and biodiversity loss. In the U.S., investing in renewable energy and electric power has been identified by experts as the quickest path to net-zero emissions and preventing catastrophic temperature rise.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The American agriculture system is in need of an overhaul. A combination of more erratic weather resulting from climate change and years of soil depletion make it nearly impossible to simply continue monoculture farming. An approach called regenerative agriculture could change the system. But even as farmers and agriculture […]
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