The principle that the polluter should pay for repairing damage done to the environment is a good one, and increasingly recognized as best practice by policy makers. America’s Superfund Act, passed in 1980, was a milestone in backing this principle with the full force of law.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, its formal name, created a federal government “superfund” to pay for the cleanup of contaminated sites and empowered the Environmental Protection Agency to go after the polluters for the money.


Around 40,000 sites have been identified for cleanup under the act, and about 70% of the cost has been recovered from the primary polluters.

Similar legislation has since been implemented in many other countries.


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