There is one summary for this bill. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (05/24/1999)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Brownfields Liability Relief

Title II: Small Business Liability Relief

Title III: Settlements for Municipalities and Contributors

of Municipal Waste

Title IV: Clarification of Liability for Recycling

Transactions

Title V: Brownfields Cleanup

Title VI: Settlement Incentives

Title VII: Funding

Title VIII: Definitions

Superfund Litigation Reduction and Brownfield Cleanup Act of 1999 - Title I: Brownfields Liability Relief - Amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to absolve 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 unrecovered costs of a response not inconsistent with the National Contingency Plan for which the owner is not liable by reason of this Act and the facility's fair market value has increased above that which existed before the action was taken.

(Sec. 102) Amends provisions concerning 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 a site assessment was conducted which meets specified requirements (compliance with an American Society for Testing and Materials standard or with standards issued by the President) and the person fulfills certain responsibilities concerning information compilation, prevention or cessation of hazardous substance releases at the facility, cooperation with those conducting response actions, and compliance with land use or activity restrictions. Deems the appropriate inquiry requirements to be satisfied by a site inspection and title search that reveal no basis for further investigation in the case of property for residential or similar use purchased by a nongovernmental or noncommercial entity.

Exempts from liability under CERCLA certain owners or operators of real property contiguous to property on which there has been a release or threatened release that is not owned or operated by such persons. Authorizes the President to issue an assurance that no enforcement action will be initiated against such individuals.

Title II: Small Business Liability Relief - Provides exemptions from liability under CERCLA for: (1) certain pre-May 1999 acts if liability is based solely on arranging for disposal, treatment, or transport of, or accepting, hazardous substances and the total of materials containing such substances did not exceed a specified amount; and (2) certain owners, operators, or lessees of residential property, businesses with fewer than 100 employees, or small nonprofit organizations whose liability is based on arrangement or acceptance provisions with respect to municipal solid waste (MSW).

(Sec. 202) Adds to the list of parties eligible for expedited final settlements persons and small businesses who demonstrate an inability or limited ability to pay response costs. Revises conditions of eligibility for such settlements for de minimis parties.

Establishes a moratorium on litigation under CERCLA for recovery or contribution of response costs from any person eligible for an expedited settlement within a specified time frame.

(Sec. 203) Directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a small business Superfund assistance section within the EPA small business ombudsman office to provide assistance and information regarding CERCLA and the settlement processes and to make recommendations for changes in EPA policies that would better fulfill the goals of this title in assuring equitable, simplified, and expedited settlements for small businesses.

Title III: Settlements For Municipalities and Contributors of Municipal Waste - Makes municipalities currently liable for response costs on the basis of ownership or operation of a municipal landfill listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) on or before May 1, 1999, eligible for settlements. Limits liability to 20 percent of total response costs for municipalities with populations exceeding 100,000, but authorizes the President to increase or decrease such percentage to up to 35 percent or to no less than ten percent, respectively, under certain conditions. Limits liability of municipalities with populations of less than 100,000 to a maximum of ten percent of total response costs. Authorizes the President to require such municipalities to perform or participate in response actions at the facility. Considers two or more municipalities that jointly own or operate a facility to be single owners for purposes of calculating settlement offers. Requires municipalities, as a condition of such settlements, to waive claims for response costs, including those for contribution, against other potentially responsible parties (PRPs) unless the President determines that a waiver would be unjust.

(Sec. 302) Adds to the list of parties eligible for expedited final settlements: (1) PRPs whose liability is based on arranging for disposal, treatment, transport of, or on accepting, MSW or municipal sewage sludge at an NPL facility; and (2) municipalities with an inability or limited ability to pay response costs.

Title IV: Clarification of Liability for Recycling Transactions - Absolves persons (other than owners or operators) who arranged for the recycling of recyclable material from liability for environmental response actions.

Considers transactions involving scrap paper, plastic, glass, textiles, or rubber (other than whole tires) to be arranging for recycling if the person who arranged the transaction demonstrates that the following criteria were met: (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 to be made from the material) is a replacement for a virgin raw material; and (4) in the case of 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.

Considers transactions involving 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.

Considers transactions involving 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 law regarding such batteries.

Makes the exemptions from liability under this Act 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; (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.

Makes such exemptions inapplicable if the recyclable material contained polychlorinated biphenyls in excess of 50 parts per million or any new Federal standard.

Title V: Brownfields Cleanup - Directs the Administrator to establish a program to award grants to States or local governments to inventory and conduct site assessments of brownfield sites.

Requires the Administrator to establish a program to award grants to: (1) State or local governments for capitalization of loan programs for brownfield site cleanup by either the State or locality or by an owner or prospective purchaser; and (2) local governments that are not liable under CERCLA for purposes of cleaning up brownfield sites.

Requires reports to specified congressional committees regarding the programs established under this title.

Imposes funding limitations, including a restriction on the use of grants to meet Federal cost-sharing requirements or to pay fines or penalties.

(Sec. 502) Authorizes the Administrator to: (1) award grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts or provide technical assistance to States, Indian tribes, political subdivisions, and other entities for training, technology transfer, and information dissemination programs to strengthen environmental response activities; and (2) provide training and technical assistance to individuals and organizations to inventory and conduct assessments and cleanups of brownfield sites and conduct response actions under CERCLA.

(Sec. 503) Requires the Administrator to provide grants to States to develop or enhance State voluntary response programs.

(Sec. 504) Provides for auditing of such grants by the EPA Inspector General.

Title VI: Settlement Incentives - Authorizes settlements to provide for payment of a portion of response costs at facilities where there are parties that are insolvent or defunct or otherwise have a limited ability to pay. Authorizes the President to evaluate the ability to pay of a PRP and to enter into a settlement based on that ability.

Title VII: Funding - Reauthorizes the Hazardous Substance Superfund (Superfund) through FY 2004. Adds purposes for which Superfund may be used, including payments for certain cleanup settlements.

(Sec. 703) Reauthorizes certain activities under CERCLA to be carried out by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

(Sec. 704) Authorizes appropriations for the brownfields activities and State voluntary response programs created by this Act.

(Sec. 705) Authorizes appropriations to Superfund for FY 2000 through 2004.

(Sec. 706) Increases the maximum amount available for certain worker training and education grants under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 in FY 2000 through 2004.

Title VIII: Definitions - Adds definitions to CERCLA.