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3.5. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

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The Solid Waste Disposal Act includes as amendments the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984. Here they are referred to collectively as RCRA, the most commonly used acronym. RCRA directs EPA to promulgate regulations for generators and transporters of solid waste, as well as owners and operators of solid waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. Most of these regulations are to “establish such standards…as may be necessary to protect human health and the environment.”

RCRA clearly places the emphasis in rulemaking upon protecting human health and the environment. Because the act is generally silent with respect to costs, EPA examined the legislative history to determine Congress’ intent. The legislative history may be subject to various interpretations. When issuing the initial RCRA Subtitle C regulations, for example, EPA concluded that it could not consider the cost burden on industry as a basis for lessening standards, but it could consider cost-effectiveness in choosing among alternatives that would meet the standards.

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