What is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act?

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA, is a federal law that puts a lot of power into the hands of the Environmental Protection Agency related to hazardous waste. The RCRA gives the EPA what it calls "cradle-to-grave" dominion over hazardous waste, which means the federal entity has some control and say over how those materials are generated, transported, treated, stored and disposed of. The law also includes a number of amendments detailing specific types of waste.

Part of the authority granted to the EPA under the RCRA involves monitoring and investigation. The EPA works with other government and private industries to ensure compliance with the RCRA provisions across a wide variety of businesses and industries. While much of the monitoring for compliance is delegated to state or local organizations and governments, those who fail to comply with the RCRA could ultimately face fines, sanctions or other actions from the EPA.

Environmental litigation can be an enormous pain point for businesses. Environmental law is notoriously complex, and you could face competing regulations from state, local and federal agencies. It can be difficult to tell which rule trumps, and compliance with appropriate laws might require the help of a professional experienced in interpreting environmental legalese.

The types of materials governed under the RCRA include used oil, hazardous or contaminated soil, injection waste and other hazardous wastes. If your company deals with these forms of waste in any processes, then it's critical that you understand the RCRA and how it applies to you. If you are already dealing with litigation about such a matter, then understanding your appeals options for federal environmental law cases is important.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Summary of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act," accessed July 29, 2016

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