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Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Recovery Act (CERCLA)


Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA, also known as "Superfund") in response to a growing national concern about the release of hazardous substances from abandoned waste sites. Under CERCLA Congress gave the federal government broad authority to regulate hazardous substances, to respond to hazardous substance emergencies, and to develop long-term solutions for the Nation's most serious hazardous waste problems. CERCLA also created a Hazardous Substance Response Trust Fund, supported by an excise tax on feedstock chemicals and petroleum, to pay for cleanup activities at abandoned waste sites. In 1986 CERCLA was reauthorized and amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). SARA expanded the federal government's response authorities and clarified that federal facilities are subject to the same CERCLA requirements as private industry. The Community Environmental Response Facilitation Act of 1992 amended the CERCLA provisions dealing with federal activities on any real property owned by the government. It requires the federal government to identify those parts of that real property where no hazardous substance had been stored, released, or disposed of.

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