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Cleanup on the Federal Lands Meets the Private Sector

Roger L. Freeman, Pamela S. Sbar, Proceedings of 44th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1998)

For nearly two decades the United States has been engaged in an extensive cleanup program of historic contamination sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund)1 and other statutory authorities. In recent years a new phase of this environmental work has begun to target abandoned mine sites and other facilities located wholly or partially on federal lands. This paper will explore emerging federal land cleanup programs spearheaded by the United States Forest Service (Forest Service) and other federal agencies and their relationship to the private sector. The variety of approaches that have been taken on federal mining sites will be outlined and compared. In particular, structured cleanup programs under CERCLA and similar authorities will be compared to other voluntary, less rigid approaches. The paper will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these alternatives and their implications for private party initiatives.