Several recent court decisions provide cause for optimism in the high-stakes area of environmental liability. They uphold Environmental Protection Agency regulations adopted to protect secured creditors from liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or Superfund law.

In a significant 1992 decision, a federal district court in Minnesota declared that the EPA's lender liability rules (published April 29, 1992) were consistent with language exempting from the law's broad "owner and operator" liability provisions persons who, without participating in the management of a business, hold an indicia of ownership primarily to protect a security interest.

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