WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court should decide Friday whether it will hear arguments in American Bankers Association v. Kelley, a closely watched lender liability case.

The dispute centers on whether the Environmental Protection Agency properly promulgated a rule relieving banks and other "innocent" landowners of liability for the cleanup of polluted sites.

The EPA passed the rule after bankers and others argued that it wasn't fair to require them to clean up sites, especially those acquired by foreclosure, that they didn't pollute.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia early last year sided against the banking industry, ruling that the EPA rule improperly interfered with the right of one party to sue another to clean up a polluted site.

The federal appeals court in June denied the ABA's request for a rehearing before the entire court, setting up the industry's appeal to the Supreme Court.

The justices had considered the petition on Jan. 6, but held the case over for a week, according to a court clerk.

"At least we didn't get summarily rejected," ABA Deputy General Counsel Michael Crotty said. "Somebody must be thinking about it."

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