Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



In 1980, President Carter signed the first hazardous waste cleanup bill into law.' The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) serves as a tool for government cleanup of hazardous waste sites, but those who anxiously waited for Congress to pass a hazardous waste cleanup bill were disappointed with the final bill. The proposed bill had been broadly compromised. The lack of legislative history indicates the rushed process through which Congress passed the bill. Like a game show contest- ant who must accept or reject what is behind the door without knowing exactly what it entails, the House had to either pass or reject the bill without the opportunity for revisions or comments. A bipartisan Senate group wrote and passed the revised bill, and then, under a suspension of the rule that prohibited amendments, placed it before the House as an amendment to the earlier House Bill. After waiting over three years for the Senate to enact a hazardous waste cleanup bill, the House faced two options: it could accept this complicated bill or risk three more years of debate during which time no hazardous waste cleanup legislation would exist.