National Priority List

National Priority List in the United States

National Priority List (NPL) in Environmental Law

The federal list of hazardous waste sites, which is prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with input from the states, is ranked according to priority. Sites listed on the National Priority List are called Superfund sites because they are eligible for federal cleanup funds, and the law that drives the listing is nicknamed Superfund. See Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; Hazardous Ranking System; Superfund.

Not all hazardous waste sites are placed on the National Priority List only those that rank high enough to be considered a federal priority. States send their list of proposed sites to the EPA, which then evaluates them and chooses only the most serious sites for inclusion on the NPL. (The law requires the EPA to list at least one site from each state in the top 100 facilities.) For that reason, states often have their own lists to deal with sites not included on the NPL.

Listing is a long process that involves examination of many factors. The nearness of the site to human population, potential for drinking water impact, likelihood of direct exposure or airborne exposure, and toxicity of the substances at the site are among the factors considered. The EPA also considers whether the state has the capacity to assume the costs and take the actions required for cleaning up the site.

Before it lists a site, the EPA must provide public notice. Listing will diminish the value of the property itself as well as land values in the vicinity The potentially responsible parties or current owner may try to stop the listing by voluntarily cleaning up the property. The EPA must also provide public notice before it delists a site, ending its status as a Superfund site. Public involvement in the decision to take a site off the National Priority List is critical, since delisting ends federal government scrutiny of the site.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.

National Priority List: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about National Priority List. This part provides references, in relation to National Priority List, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about National Priority List by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about National Priority List and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about National Priority List or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to National Priority List and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting National Priority List. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about National Priority List should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to National Priority List when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

Leave a Comment