Federal Court Gives GE Go-Ahead for Suit Against Superfund

The constitutionality of the Superfund toxic-site cleanup law is once again an open question. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., this week instructed a lower court to reconsider General Electric’s suit challenging the 1980 law, overturning a year-old district court decision dismissing the case. The suit concerns a provision of Superfund — inserted by lawmakers to avoid cleanup delays that might threaten public safety — holding that companies ordered by the U.S. EPA to fund cleanup of a polluted site may not challenge the agency in court until after the project is finished. GE contends that the provision violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The company claims the case will not affect its current negotiations with the EPA over a massive PCB dredging project on the Hudson River, but some enviros question the company’s intentions. “It’s very hard to think GE is continuing to act in good faith,” said Rich Schiafo of the environmental group Scenic Hudson, “when they continue to challenge the very law they’re supposedly cooperating with.”