Publication Date


Document Type

Survey Article


This Article is the third survey of environmental case law in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and covers the period of January 1993 to December 1994. The survey comes at a time when the nation's political climate has turned dramatically to the right with the majority of both houses of Congress now being held by the Republican Party. Over the last two decades, it sometimes appeared as if Congress was pushing a reluctant judiciary uphill towards enforcing more stringent environmental laws. In the months ahead, however, Congress may instead be seen pumping the brakes to slow down what many view as virtual runaway environmental programs. In the first few weeks of the 104th Congress, members have proposed major revisions to several cornerstone environmental statutes including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Clean Water Act ("CWA7), and have proposed to repeal the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

If history is any gauge, voices from the center and left will likely considerably water-down this ambitious agenda as the realities of the complex nature of environmental problems and the myriad of special interests come into focus. Nonetheless, the momentum for change in the legislative and administrative branches may well re-open questions of environmental law which now appear settled. Indeed, even CERCLA's notorious scheme of retroactive joint and several liability, which has perhaps best epitomized the force of environmental law, has been opened for debate in Congress.

Despite the possibility of sweeping changes in certain programs (or perhaps because of it), this Article surveys significant environmental decisions by the Eleventh Circuit and selected decisions from the associated district courts. In keeping with past formats, the Article begins with the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), followed by the CWA and CERCLA. Also included is a section on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA"), which, although not new, received significant treatment by the Eleventh Circuit for arguably the first time during the survey period. With the exception of the section on RCRA, the overview of the basic statutory scheme contained in earlier Surveys is omitted but can be obtained from those articles.