Attorney General James Fights In Supreme Court To Protect States' Ability To Hold Polluters Accountable 

Coalition of fifteen states fight to ensure states can hold polluters
accountable and force them to clean up hazardous waste sites 

NEW YORK – Attorney General James, as a part of a coalition of 15 attorneys general from across the country, today defended the ability of New York and other states to hold polluters accountable for the damage they cause. In the case of Atlantic Richfield Company v. Gregory A. Christian, et al., a case out of Montana, a heavy manufacturing company is trying to avoid paying for the cleanup of its former site by saying that federal law blocks the ability of states to address, respond to, and clean up hazardous waste sites. The attorneys general argue that federal law clearly allows states to protect their land, air, and water from damage, and to hold polluters accountable for the damage they cause. 

“New York stands firm with our fellow states in holding polluters accountable for violating laws and regulations that cause harm to Americans,” said Attorney General James. “My office is prepared to use every tool possible to ensure our ability to protect the land we use, the air we breathe, and the water we drink from contamination.”  

In their brief, the attorneys general write that “States have a strong interest in ensuring that their citizens (and the State itself) are compensated for injuries caused by releases of hazardous materials and in preserving their authority to address, respond to, and remediate harm from environmental contamination.” 

The states further explain that the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) actually “aimed to preserve the States’ traditional role in addressing environmental contamination,” and recognized “that States play an important role in addressing, responding to, and remediating environmental disasters.” 

In addition to Attorney General James, the brief was joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.