WASHINGTON -- The banking industry on Tuesday lost another round in its legal fight for protection against environmental liability.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected requests to review its Feb. 4 decision that essentially stripped the industry's protection against lawsuits stemming from contaminated properties inherited through foreclosures.

The federal court held that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority in 1992 when it issued rules giving banks immunity from environmental liability suits as long as the institution did not participate in the management of the site.

Michael F. Crotty, lead litigator at the American Bankers Association, said Tuesday that the industry and the EPA have 90 days to decided whether to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

The case was brought by Michigan's attorney general and the Chemical Manufactures Association.

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