South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Superfund Does Not Apply Outside of the U.S. without Congressional Approval
Description Appeals court rejected a claim that the U.S. must do a CERCLA evaluation and clean up of U.S. military bases in the Philippines that were abandoned and returned to the Philippines. The history of CERCLA makes clear that Congress did not intend for it to have extra-territorial application.
Topic International Law
Key Words Environmental Law; CERCLA; Extra-territorial Application
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts After decades of use, the U.S. withdrew from naval and air bases in the Philippines in 1992 and turned the bases over to the Philippine government. Environmental groups and residents of the Philippines sued the U.S., contending that contamination left at the bases could be harmful and violate CERCLA (the Superfund law). As such, they requested a judgment that the U.S. be required to perform environmental remediation at the facilities. The district court dismissed the suit. Plaintiffs appealed.

Affirmed. CERCLA does not apply extra-territorially to require the U.S. military to conduct assessments of pollution on former military based in the Philippines. There is a presumption against extra-territorial application, and that is consistent with the statutory history. CERCLA did not apply to such bases when CERCLA was enacted, and the legislative history makes clear that there is no such application.

Citation Arc Ecology v. U.S. Dept. of Air Force, 411 F.3d 1092 (9th Cir., 2005)

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