Transactions - Environmental Issues In Real Estate Transactions

05/07/1999

Overview of Environmental Programs
Environmental laws regulate activities because of their actual or potential effect on the environment or on human health via the environment.  The types of activities regulated generally include the generation and disposition of pollutants, the use and handling of chemicals and other potentially hazardous substances, and activities, such as development, that affect environmentally sensitive areas.
 
Environmental requirements arise under federal, state, and local laws and regulations.  Federal pollution laws provide for state assumption of responsibility for implementing a program equivalent to the federal program.  Examples of federal pollution laws include:

  • the federal Clean Air Act (“CAA”), which regulates emissions of air contaminants;
  • the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”), which regulates discharges of contaminants to water;
  • the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), which addresses the disposition and other management of solid and hazardous waste;
  • the Safe Drinking Water Act, which addresses the subsurface injection of wastes; and
  • the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) or Superfund, which imposes retroactive liability for the remediation of inactive waste disposal sites and for natural resource damages.

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