This paper reviews the federal regulatory program for the shipment of hazardous materials, state hazardous materials programs, local government regulatory programs, and the role of the federal courts in ordering intergovernmental relations in the hazardous materials area. The governmental response to the threat of hazardous materials has been uniform across the country: schemes to regulate the handling and movement of dangerous commodities have been devised at the local, state, and federal levels. Critics of the hazardous material regulation regime in the United States have focused on this preference for regulatory standard-setting and, as a result most proposals for regulatory reform in the area have advocated a greater reliance on tort liability to control carriers of hazardous material. Although no legislative action has been taken to explicitly balance standard-setting with tort liability, an inadvertent but fortuitous result of hazardous materials litigation in the past five years has been the assignment of intergovernmental roles in hazardous materials policymaking: a zone of regulatory standard-setting authority has been reserved for the federal government and a zone of control through tort remedies has been preserved for the states. The federal courts have assumed a unique role in the hazardous materials area, ordering intergovernmental responsibility in an area of substantive law and creating a national regulatory regime in the absence of legislative action.

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  • Accession Number: 00492008
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 31 1990 12:00AM