H.R. 1831 (107th): Small Business Liability Protection Act

107th Congress, 2001–2002. Text as of Jun 13, 2001 (Referred to Senate Committee).

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HR 1831 RFS

107th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1831

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 13, 2001

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works


AN ACT

To provide certain relief for small businesses from liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Small Business Liability Protection Act’.

SEC. 2. SMALL BUSINESS LIABILITY RELIEF.

    (a) EXEMPTIONS- Section 107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9607) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsections:

    ‘(o) DE MICROMIS EXEMPTION-

      ‘(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (2), a person shall not be liable, with respect to response costs at a facility on the National Priorities List, under this Act if liability is based solely on paragraph (3) or (4) of subsection (a), and the person, except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, can demonstrate that--

        ‘(A) the total amount of the material containing hazardous substances that the person arranged for disposal or treatment of, arranged with a transporter for transport for disposal or treatment of, or accepted for transport for disposal or treatment, at the facility was less than 110 gallons of liquid materials or less than 200 pounds of solid materials (or such greater or lesser amounts as the Administrator may determine by regulation); and

        ‘(B) all or part of the disposal, treatment, or transport concerned occurred before April 1, 2001.

      ‘(2) EXCEPTIONS- Paragraph (1) shall not apply in a case in which--

        ‘(A) the President determines that--

          ‘(i) the materials containing hazardous substances referred to in paragraph (1) have contributed significantly or could contribute significantly, either individually or in the aggregate, to the cost of the response action or natural resource restoration with respect to the facility; or

          ‘(ii) the person has failed to comply with an information request or administrative subpoena issued by the President under this Act or has impeded or is impeding, through action or inaction, the performance of a response action or natural resource restoration with respect to the facility; or

        ‘(B) a person has been convicted of a criminal violation for the conduct to which the exemption would apply, and that conviction has not been vitiated on appeal or otherwise.

      ‘(3) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- A determination by the President under paragraph (2)(A) shall not be subject to judicial review.

      ‘(4) NONGOVERNMENTAL THIRD-PARTY CONTRIBUTION ACTIONS- In the case of a contribution action, with respect to response costs at a facility on the National Priorities List, brought by a party, other than a Federal, State, or local government, under this Act, the burden of proof shall be on the party bringing the action to demonstrate that the conditions described in paragraph (1)(A) and (B) of this subsection are not met.

    ‘(p) MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE EXEMPTION-

      ‘(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a person shall not be liable, with respect to response costs at a facility on the National Priorities List, under paragraph (3) of subsection (a) for municipal solid waste disposed of at a facility if the person, except as provided in paragraph (5) of this subsection, can demonstrate that the person is--

        ‘(A) an owner, operator, or lessee of residential property from which all of the person’s municipal solid waste was generated with respect to the facility;

        ‘(B) a business entity (including a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of the entity) that, during its 3 taxable years preceding the date of transmittal of written notification from the President of its potential liability under this section, employed on average not more than 100 full-time individuals, or the equivalent thereof, and that is a small business concern (within the meaning of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 631 et seq.)) from which was generated all of the municipal solid waste attributable to the entity with respect to the facility; or

        ‘(C) an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code that, during its taxable year preceding the date of transmittal of written notification from the President of its potential liability under this section, employed not more than 100 paid individuals at the location from which was generated all of the municipal solid waste attributable to the organization with respect to the facility.

      For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘affiliate’ has the meaning of that term provided in the definition of ‘small business concern’ in regulations promulgated by the Small Business Administration in accordance with the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 631 et seq.).

      ‘(2) EXCEPTION- Paragraph (1) shall not apply in a case in which the President determines that--

        ‘(A) the municipal solid waste referred to in paragraph (1) has contributed significantly or could contribute significantly, either individually or in the aggregate, to the cost of the response action or natural resource restoration with respect to the facility;

        ‘(B) the person has failed to comply with an information request or administrative subpoena issued by the President under this Act; or

        ‘(C) the person has impeded or is impeding, through action or inaction, the performance of a response action or natural resource restoration with respect to the facility.

      ‘(3) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- A determination by the President under paragraph (2) shall not be subject to judicial review.

      ‘(4) DEFINITION OF MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE-

        ‘(A) IN GENERAL- For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘municipal solid waste’ means waste material--

          ‘(i) generated by a household (including a single or multifamily residence); and

          ‘(ii) generated by a commercial, industrial, or institutional entity, to the extent that the waste material--

            ‘(I) is essentially the same as waste normally generated by a household;

            ‘(II) is collected and disposed of with other municipal solid waste as part of normal municipal solid waste collection services; and

            ‘(III) contains a relative quantity of hazardous substances no greater than the relative quantity of hazardous substances contained in waste material generated by a typical single-family household.

        ‘(B) EXAMPLES- Examples of municipal solid waste under subparagraph (A) include food and yard waste, paper, clothing, appliances, consumer product packaging, disposable diapers, office supplies, cosmetics, glass and metal food containers, elementary or secondary school science laboratory waste, and household hazardous waste.

        ‘(C) EXCLUSIONS- The term ‘municipal solid waste’ does not include--

          ‘(i) combustion ash generated by resource recovery facilities or municipal incinerators; or

          ‘(ii) waste material from manufacturing or processing operations (including pollution control operations) that is not essentially the same as waste normally generated by households.

      ‘(5) BURDEN OF PROOF- In the case of an action, with respect to response costs at a facility on the National Priorities List, brought under section 107 or 113 by--

        ‘(A) a party, other than a Federal, State, or local government, with respect to municipal solid waste disposed of on or after April 1, 2001; or

        ‘(B) any party with respect to municipal solid waste disposed of before April 1, 2001, the burden of proof shall be on the party bringing the action to demonstrate that the conditions described in paragraphs (1) and (4) for exemption for entities and organizations described in paragraph (1)(B) and (C) are not met.

      ‘(6) CERTAIN ACTIONS NOT PERMITTED- No contribution action may be brought by a party, other than a Federal, State, or local government, under this Act with respect to circumstances described in paragraph (1)(A).

      ‘(7) COSTS AND FEES- A nongovernmental entity that commences, after the date of the enactment of this subsection, a contribution action under this Act shall be liable to the defendant for all reasonable costs of defending the action, including all reasonable attorney’s fees and expert witness fees, if the defendant is not liable for contribution based on an exemption under this subsection or subsection (o).’.

    (b) EXPEDITED SETTLEMENT- Section 122(g) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 9622(g)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

      ‘(7) REDUCTION IN SETTLEMENT AMOUNT BASED ON LIMITED ABILITY TO PAY-

        ‘(A) IN GENERAL- The condition for settlement under this paragraph is that the potentially responsible party is a person who demonstrates to the President an inability or a limited ability to pay response costs.

        ‘(B) CONSIDERATIONS- In determining whether or not a demonstration is made under subparagraph (A) by a person, the President shall take into consideration the ability of the person to pay response costs and still maintain its basic business operations, including consideration of the overall financial condition of the person and demonstrable constraints on the ability of the person to raise revenues.

        ‘(C) INFORMATION- A person requesting settlement under this paragraph shall promptly provide the President with all relevant information needed to determine the ability of the person to pay response costs.

        ‘(D) ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT METHODS- If the President determines that a person is unable to pay its total settlement amount at the time of settlement, the President shall consider such alternative payment methods as may be necessary or appropriate.

      ‘(8) ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS FOR EXPEDITED SETTLEMENTS-

        ‘(A) WAIVER OF CLAIMS- The President shall require, as a condition for settlement under this subsection, that a potentially responsible party waive all of the claims (including a claim for contribution under this Act) that the party may have against other potentially responsible parties for response costs incurred with respect to the facility, unless the President determines that requiring a waiver would be unjust.

        ‘(B) FAILURE TO COMPLY- The President may decline to offer a settlement to a potentially responsible party under this subsection if the President determines that the potentially responsible party has failed to comply with any request for access or information or an administrative subpoena issued by the President under this Act or has impeded or is impeding, through action or inaction, the performance of a response action with respect to the facility.

        ‘(C) RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE INFORMATION AND ACCESS- A potentially responsible party that enters into a settlement under this subsection shall not be relieved of the responsibility to provide any information or access requested in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(B) or section 104(e).

      ‘(9) BASIS OF DETERMINATION- If the President determines that a potentially responsible party is not eligible for settlement under this subsection, the President shall provide the reasons for the determination in writing to the potentially responsible party that requested a settlement under this subsection.

      ‘(10) NOTIFICATION- As soon as practicable after receipt of sufficient information to make a determination, the President shall notify any person that the President determines is eligible under paragraph (1) of the person’s eligibility for an expedited settlement.

      ‘(11) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- A determination by the President under paragraph (7), (8), (9), or (10) shall not be subject to judicial review.

      ‘(12) NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT- After a settlement under this subsection becomes final with respect to a facility, the President shall promptly notify potentially responsible parties at the facility that have not resolved their liability to the United States of the settlement.’.

SEC. 3. EFFECT ON CONCLUDED ACTIONS.

    The amendments made by this Act shall not apply to or in any way affect any settlement lodged in, or judgment issued by, a United States District Court, or any administrative settlement or order entered into or issued by the United States or any State, before the date of the enactment of this Act.

Passed the House of Representatives May 22, 2001.

Attest:

JEFF TRANDAHL,

Clerk.