1982 Scorecard Vote
Dannemeyer (R-CA) amendment to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) reauthorization bill (H.R. 6307), to remove provision that preserves the right of individuals and state and local governments to sue hazardous waste generators under the "common law." Unfortunately, RCRA does not cover every hazardous waste problem, and without common law protections, victims could be left without any remedy. Common law remedies are often the only legal recourse for aggrieved parties where EPA has not yet issued rules, and for states seeking to stop actions by neighboring states which harm them.
The Supreme Court had ruled earlier that when Congress originally passed RCRA, it eliminated other legal rights which hazardous waste victims had before RCRA passage. The House bill as written restored these "common law rights." The Chemical Manufacturers Association strongly opposed the provision, and passage of the Dannemeyer Amendment was one of their top priorities. Environmentalists were joined in our opposition to the Amendment by the National Association of Attorneys General. Environmentalists have traditionally opposed allowing federal environmental statutes to preempt stronger, or additional, legal rights (see also vote #6 on pesticides). This problem is especially serious at a time when the U.S. EPA is no longer willing or able to cope with its pollution control responsibilities. Amendment rejected 85-255; September 8, 1982. NO is the pro-environmental vote. (Changes in RCRA were not considered in the Senate, but are expected to come up again in Congress in 1983.)