Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said on Tuesday that she filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting state agencies' authority to settle environmental liability cases under the federal law known as the “Superfund.”
Coffman joined eight other states in supporting the petitioners in the case of State of Arizona v. Ashton Company Incorporated Contractors and Engineers. The brief argues that state agencies have the right to settle liability cases under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Coffman said a state's settlement authority should be recognized with the same respect as the federal government's. The brief asks the court to look at both federal and state settlement agreements under “similarly deferential standards.”
“The decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals suggests that states cannot be trusted to settle environmental claims, and so state agreements settling environmental liability should be treated less favorably than similar federal settlement agreements,” Coffman said. “The states oversee the vast majority of environmentally contaminated sites across the country, and they need the same flexibility to settle environmental claims that the federal government enjoys. We expect that the U.S. Supreme Court will show more respect for states' rights and the critical role states play in cleaning up the country’s hundreds of thousands of environmentally contaminated sites.”