Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund)

Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund). The "Superfund" statute was enacted in 1980 (26 U.S.C. 4611-4682; P.L. 96-510, December 11, 1980; 94 Stat. 2797). Major amendments were enacted in 1983 (42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; P.L. 98-802, August 23, 1983; 97 Stat. 485) and in 1986 (P.L. 99-499; October 17, 1986; 100 Stat. 1613). (The two sets of amendments reconstituted the 26 U.S.C. 4611-82 provisions into a new trust fund at 26 U.S.C. 9507 and operational provisions into the Title 42 sections.)

The 1980 statute authorized, through 1985, the collection of taxes on crude oil and petroleum products, certain chemicals, and hazardous wastes. It also established liability to the U.S. Government for damage to natural resources over which the U.S. has sovereign rights [42 U.S.C. 9607(f)(1)] and requires the President to designate Federal officials to act as trustees for natural resources. Use of Superfund monies to conduct natural resource damage assessments was provided in section 11(c)(1) [42 U.S.C. 9611 (c)(1)].

Subchapter I of the 1983 amendments established a comprehensive system to react to releases of hazardous substances and to determine liability and compensation for those affected (42 U.S.C. 9601-9626). The President is authorized to notify Federal and State natural resource trustees of potential damages to natural resources and to coordinate related assessments [42 U.S.C. 9604 (b)(2)]. Revisions to the national contingency plan for removal of oil and hazardous substances and to prioritize such releases were required by the 1983 amendments [42 U.S.C. 9605(a)].

Amendments enacted in 1986 (known as the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act, or SARA):

The Department of the Interior is a trustee for natural resources, and the Service is responsible for the protection and restoration of trust resources injured by uncontrolled releases of hazardous materials. The Service is responsible for conducting assessments to establish injury and the dollar equivalent of that injury for collection of damages from parties responsible for releasing hazardous materials.

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