E. Supp.

Toxic Solid Waste Leaching from Telephone Poles? Navigating Ambiguous Definitions in RCRA

This Comment analyzes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Ecological Rights Foundation v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The plaintiff alleged that two utility companies operated utility poles that discharged wood preservative in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The plaintiff’s RCRA claim depended on whether the wood preservative was a “solid waste” according to the Act. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the claims but acknowledged that RCRA has two definitions of solid waste, and the wood preservative was not a solid waste according to the Plaintiff’s allegations, which only implicated the narrow regulatory definition. The court’s decision leaves open the possibility that RCRA could apply to wood preservative under other circumstances. This Comment analyzes the distinction between the solid waste definitions of RCRA and the circumstances under which RCRA might be applicable to wood preservative.

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