Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Resource Conservation And Recovery Act in the United States

Case Law


  • American Iron & Steel Institute v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1989)
  • American Petroleum Institute v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 2000)
  • American Petroleum Institute v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1990)
  • American Petroleum Institute v. EPA (2012)
  • Association of Am. R.R. v. ICC, (D.C. Cir. 1988)
  • Association of Battery Recyclers v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 2000)
  • Bar MK Ranches v. Yuetter (10th Cir. 1993)
  • Chem. Waste Mgmt., Inc. v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1992)
  • Chemical Mfrs. Ass’n v. NRDC (1985)
  • Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. NRDC (1984)
  • Citizens to Preserve Overton Park, Inc. v. Volpe (1971)
  • City of Chicago v. EDF (1994)
  • CTIA-The Wireless Ass’n v. FCC (D.C. Cir. 2008)
  • Eagle-Picher Indus. v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1985)
  • Florida Power & Light Co. v. Lorion (1985)
  • Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife (1992)
  • Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation (1990)
  • National Mining Association v. U.S. Department of Interior (D.C. Cir. 1995)
  • National Treasury Employees Union v. United States (D.C. Cir. 1996)
  • NRDC v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 2007)
  • NRDC v. Thomas (D.C. Cir. 1988)
  • Ohio Forestry Association, Inc. v. Sierra Club (1998)
  • Ohio v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1988)
  • Owen Elec. Steel Co. v. Browner (4th Cir. 1994)
  • Pub. Citizen Health Research Group v. FDA (D.C. Cir. 1984)
  • Pub. Citizen v. Nuclear Reg. Comm’n (D.C. Cir. 1990)
  • Safe Food & Fertilizer v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 2003)
  • Shell Oil Co. v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1992)
  • Sitka Sound Seafoods, Inc. v. NLRB (D.C. Cir. 2000)
  • Small Refiner Lead Phase-Down Task Force v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1983)
  • United States v. ILCO Inc. (11th Cir. 1993)
  • United Technologies Corp. v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1987)
  • Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 2003)
  • Whitmore v. Arkansas (1990)
  • Wyoming Outdoor Council v. U.S. Forest Serv. (D.C. Cir. 1999)


  • 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6901(c)(1), (2), & (3)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6902(a)(6)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6903(5)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6903(27)
  • 42 U.S.C. §§ 6921-6939f
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6924(g)(4)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6924(m)(1)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6924(m)(2)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6976(a)
  • 42 U.S.C. § 6976(a)(1)
  • Federal Regulations: 40 C.F.R.

Subtitle C (subchapter III of the Act)

Subtitle C refers to subtitle C of Public Law No. 94-580, and was classified as subchapter III when codified.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is a comprehensive environmental statute empowering EPA to regulate hazardous wastes in accordance with the “rigorous safeguards and waste management procedures of Subtitle C.” City of Chicago v. EDF (1994). Subtitle C, 42 U.S.C. §§ 6921-6939f, establishes “a ‘cradle-to-grave’ regulatory structure overseeing the safe treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste.” United Technologies Corp. v. EPA, 821 F.2d 714, 716 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was also intended to “minimize[e] the generation of hazardous waste and the land disposal of hazardous waste” by “encouraging process substitution, materials recovery, [and] properly conducted recycling and reuse.” 42 U.S.C. §
6902(a)(6); see also id. § 6901(c)(1), reciting relevant congressional findings (“millions of tons of recoverable material which could be used are needlessly buried each year”), (c)(2) (“methods are available to separate usable materials from solid waste”), and (c)(3) (“the recovery and conservation of such materials can reduce the dependence of the United States on foreign resources and reduce the deficit in the balance of payments”).

Before a material can be considered a “hazardous waste” subject to Subtitle C regulation, it first must be a “solid waste.” The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act defines “solid waste” broadly to mean: any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply
treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations . . . .42 U.S.C. § 6903(27) . The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act defines a “hazardous waste,” in turn, as a solid waste that may “(A) cause, or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible, illness; or (B) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed.” Solid wastes that are considered hazardous wastes fall into two classes:
those exhibiting a characteristic property identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (“characteristic wastes”), and those that are found to be hazardous and specifically listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (“listed wastes”). Chemical Waste Managemt., Inc. v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 1992).

The Environmental Protection Agency may list a waste as hazardous if it meets one of three regulatory criteria, such as whether the waste contains a listed hazardous constituent and the Environmental Protection Agency concludes that the waste “is capable of posing a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment” when mismanaged. 40 C.F.R. § 261.11(a)(3). Solid wastes from non-specific sources are listed as “F wastes” under § 261.31, and wastes from specific processes or sources are listed as “K
wastes” under § 261.32.

Once a hazardous waste is identified, the Environmental Protection Agency must determine whether to prohibit “one or more methods of land disposal,” and must specify “those levels or
methods of treatment, if any, which substantially diminish the toxicity of the waste or substantially reduce the likelihood of migration of hazardous constituents from the waste so that short-term and long-term threats to human health and the environment are minimized.” 42 U.S.C. § 6924(g)(4), (m)(1). Wastes that meet these treatment standards can then “be disposed of in a land disposal facility which meets the requirements” of Subtitle C.

Definition Of “Solid Waste” For Purposes Of Subtitle C

To determine whether a material is potentially subject to Subtitle C regulation, the Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated a regulatory definition of “solid waste.” 40
C.F.R. § 261.2. See generally Ass’n of Battery Recyclers v. EPA (D.C. Cir. 2000). This regulation defines “solid waste” as “any discarded material” that is not excluded from the definition. 40 C.F.R. § 261.2(a). Excluded materials are not subject to Subtitle C regulation because, by virtue of their exclusion, they are not “solid wastes” and therefore not “hazardous wastes.”

A discarded material is any material that is either abandoned, recycled, or inherently waste-like.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in Environmental Law

A statute enacted in 1976 to regulate solid and hazardous waste disposal. It significantly expanded the previous law, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, by adding a new subtitle that deals with hazardous waste.

The law established a system of tracking hazardous waste from its creation through its disposal. Due to the complexity of the law, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted very slowly to promulgate regulations. The law was amended in 1980, but the most far-reaching amendments were passed in 1984: the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments. These amendments took on a life of their own due to provisions that forced the EPA to act by a specific date or accept the requirements Congress set forth.

Because the primary programs under RCRA are the hazardous waste and underground storage tank provisions, this entry will focus on them. If waste is not hazardous, the federal role is insignificant compared to the state’s role. If it is hazardous or if it relates to underground storage tanks, the states may administer the federal law by getting the federal government to delegate the responsibility to them. State regulations cannot be less stringent than federal regulations, but they may be more so.

Hazardous Waste Defined

To be considered hazardous waste, a substance must be (1) solid, (2) waste, and (3) either listed as a hazardous waste or have characteristics that make it hazardous. Solid goes well beyond the usual meaning to include liquids, semisolids, and contained gases, as well as solid substances. Waste is something discarded or abandoned. The waste’s character must be determined by testing unless the person creating the waste already knows its composition or by referring to the EPA’s lists of hazardous substances.

The EPA has listed numerous substances as hazardous wastes; these are called listed wastes. If the solid waste is not on the list but is ignitable, reactive, corrosive, or toxic, it is also hazardous waste and is called a characteristic waste. Listed waste may be delisted by the EPA on a case by case basis, if a generator files a petition with the agency and proves its particular waste is not hazardous. Some solid waste is exempted from being considered hazardous waste through regulatory provisions. Household waste, agricultural waste that is returned to the ground, mining overburden returned to the site, utility wastes from coal burning, and oil or gas exploration drilling waste are examples of exempted solid wastes.

Other materials are exempted from some, but not all, of the regulations. They include hazardous waste burned for energy recovery, precious metals, and spent lead acid batteries, providing they are recycled. A few categories are totally exempt, provided they fall within the specification. Examples are industrial ethyl alcohol, scrap metal, reclaimed oil, and used batteries returned to the battery manufacturer. The emphasis in these exclusions is on recovery of usable products, energy, and recycling.

Scope of the Hazardous Waste Regulations

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act aims to control hazardous waste throughout its life. It is called a cradletograve law, and that description is apt.

RCRA focuses on three classes of people: generators, transporters, and owners or operators of treatment/storage/disposal facilities [see treatment/ storage/disposal facility]. Generators are the first link in the chain: whoever first causes the substance to become waste is a generator. Transporters move the waste from the generator or another transporter to another facility or another transporter. The treatment/storage/disposal facility usually treats or disposes of the waste, but it may simply store it.

If we begin with the idea that RCRA aims to control all handling and disposal of hazardous waste, the regulations are logical. Each class of handlers generators, transporters, and owners/operators of treatment/storage/disposal facilities must notify the EPA of its hazardous waste activities. (A small portion of generators who create only small amounts of waste do not have to comply with all of the RCRA provisions, although they must properly manage and dispose of the small amounts they have.) An identification number must be obtained by each of the facilities involved in hazardous waste handling.

Hazardous waste is tracked through the system by means of a document called a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest, which originates with the generator. At least four copies are required, but more may be necessary, depending on the number of hands the waste passes through and state requirements. The generator prepares the manifest and gives it to the transporter. Transporters of hazardous waste cannot accept hazardous waste without a manifest. The manifest is a critical document that includes identification of the waste, the amount, the generator’s identification number and pertinent data, and the name and address of the designated recipient of the hazardous waste. The transporter must sign the manifest and leave a copy with the generator when accepting the waste for transport. The manifest is delivered to the next transporter or the treatment/storage/disposal facility in the same manner. Each party that handles the waste keeps a signed copy indicating the person to whom it was delivered. The final recipient, the treatment/storage/ disposal facility, must send a signed and dated manifest back to the generator. Copies must be kept for at least three years. If the generator does not receive a copy of the manifest within 45 days, it must file a report with the EPA.

Transporters of hazardous waste must obtain EPA identification numbers, state licenses if required, and follow Department of Transportation regulations on transporting hazardous materials. They are responsible for emergency response and containment if a spill occurs during transportation, as well as notifying the appropriate agency concerning the event.

Treatment/storage/disposal facilities, a classification that includes not only the facilities where the hazardous wastes are stored but also recycling and reclamation facilities, are subject to technical, financial, and management requirements. For example, the generator of hazardous waste may have to comply with the requirements for treatment/storage/disposal facilities if it stores hazardous waste for a period greater than ninety days or reclaims the waste so it can be reused in its processes. Some generators dispose of their hazardous waste on their own property; if that is the case, their facilities are treatment/storage/disposal facilities.

RCRA regulations prescribe the controls necessary for treatment/storage/ disposal facilities. In general, they must apply for and obtain a permit in order to operate. The only exception is the interim status facility, which must submit an application but may continue to operate while it is being processed. Permitted facilities and interim status facilities are responsible for managing the hazardous waste so it will not escape from where it is placed. They must provide for cleanup if previous disposals result in a release of hazardous wastes, and they must have closure plans for each unit where hazardous waste is treated, stored, or disposed of. In addition, owners and operators of these facilities must demonstrate that they have the financial ability to deal with releases, closure, and post closure care.

RCRA regulations prescribe the controls necessary for treatment/storage/ disposal facilities. In general, they must apply for and obtain a permit in order to operate. The only exception is the interim status facility, which must submit an application but may continue to operate while it is being processed. Permitted facilities and interim status facilities are responsible for managing the hazardous waste so it will not escape from where it is placed. They must provide for cleanup if previous disposals result in a release of hazardous wastes, and they must have closure plans for each unit where hazardous waste is treated, stored, or disposed of. In addition, owners and operators of these facilities must demonstrate that they have the financial ability to deal with releases, closure, and post closure care.

Treatment facilities are those that use any method to change the chemical, physical, or biological character of the hazardous waste. The definition is broad enough to encompass virtually anything that can be done to hazardous waste to make it less hazardous, recover any part of the waste, reduce its volume, or neutralize it. A manufacturer that reuses spent solvents in its processes is a treatment facility if it must first treat those solvents. Storage facilities hold hazardous waste temporarily, then send the waste somewhere else for disposal. As noted above, most generators become storage facilities if they hold hazardous waste on site for more than ninety days. Disposal facilities keep the hazardous waste somewhere on site, even after the site ceases operation. Many kinds of disposal facilities exist: landfills, containment buildings, incinerators, surface impoundments, tanks, and chemical, physical, and biological treatment units. However, restrictions now prohibit untreated hazardous waste from being land disposed.

All of the parties involved in handling hazardous waste must maintain records of their activities. They have reporting requirements, training requirements, and are subject to inspections.

The hazardous waste provisions found in RCRA may be enforced in many different ways. The EPA may issue administrative orders, assess penalties, sue in federal court, bring criminal actions, obtain injunctions, and force the cleanup of hazardous waste units when appropriate. Civil penalties may be as high as $25,000 per day; criminal penalties involving a business may reach $1 million. For individuals, the maximum penalty is $250,000 for a criminal violation and imprisonment up to 15 years.

The Underground Storage Tank Provisions of RCRA

In 1984, Congress developed a new program in the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to RCRA to deal with underground storage tanks. The new provisions, found in Subtitle I, quickly changed the practice of burying tanks without thought. They also imposed numerous requirements on the underground storage tanks that were already in place when the new program began.

Underground storage tanks are a common means of holding liquids. Many of them contain some type of petroleum, such as heating oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, or used oil. Most of those in the ground in 1984 were made of bare steel, which corrodes over time. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in 1988, two million underground storage tanks existed in the United States at approximately 700,000 different locations. The EPA believes at least 75 percent have leaked or will leak in the future. A 1992 estimate of costs associated with leaking tanks is $41 billion dollars.

RCRA regulates petroleum tanks as one object and hazardous substances as another. This entry covers the petroleum underground storage tank regulations, because they are the most defined.

Registration and Technical Specifications

The first mandate of the regulations is for registration. What happens after that depends on whether the tank already existed or was installed after the regulations took effect. Existing tanks must be upgraded; new tanks must meet the technical requirements when they are installed. Deadlines for upgrading vary according to the age of the tank, but the last deadline for upgrade is in 1998.

Typical criteria for underground storage tank upgrades include the addition of spill and overfill protection and cathodic protection to guide electrical energy away from the tank. Tanks must also be tested periodically to make sure they are still tight. Multiple tests to detect leaks are required, such as checking with a paste for water in the tank and inventory control monitoring.

New tanks avoid many of the maintenance problems of older tanks. Fiberglass, double wall construction, built-in alarms, automatic shutoff devices to prevent overfilling, and other advances make new tanks less likely to release their contents. Installation is safer also, since installers are now required to be trained and certified by the regulating agency.

Upgrade and new tank specifications are not the only provisions of the underground storage tank regulations, however. The owner or operator of these tanks has a number of other duties: monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting, investigation of releases, and corrective action if a release occurs.

Reporting, Response, and Investigation

Suspected releases of petroleum from an underground storage tank must be reported within 24 hours under the federal law. Many states specify other time periods, ranging from “immediately” to the full 24 hours. The owner or operator need not be certain that a release has occurred before he or she is obligated to report a release. Petroleum odors, alarm activation, unexplained loss of fuel, or any unusual operating condition triggers the requirement to report.

An immediate response is required if the release can be contained, stopped, or cleaned up. Situations that require immediate response include overspills, threat of fire or explosion, or floating product visible on water. If the source of the release cannot be isolated, it may be necessary to drain the tank. Spills of 25 gallons or less need not be reported under federal law unless a sheen is visible on water, but they must be cleaned up.

After a suspected release is reported, the owner or operator must begin an investigation to either confirm or disprove the release. Federal law allows seven days for the investigation. Written notice must also be supplied to the environmental agency responsible for the underground storage tank program, usually a state or county agency.

Site Characterization and Remediation

Next, assuming a confirmed release, the owner or operator must characterize the site, which involves evaluating the amount of the release, the soil type, groundwater depth and impact as well as analysis of soils and water. These factors determine what type of corrective action plan is necessary. The owner/operator then prepares the corrective action plan and submits it along with the site characterization report to the environmental agency responsible for the site. Before remediation begins, the agency should approve the plan. The owner or operator then starts work on cleaning up the contamination. A closure report is prepared after the remediation is complete.

Corrective action at underground storage tank sites may be as simple as removing some soil and as complicated as putting in a groundwater pumping and treating system. Bioremediation (use of specialty organisms to break down the contamination) can be effective if the climate is right. For some soil contamination, wells can be put in and a vacuum applied to suck out hydrocarbons.

Owners and operators must clean up the damage caused by a release from their tanks. They must also address the problem that caused the release, which may require repair, upgrade, or a total replacement of the tank and piping.

Closure and Abandonment in Place

Tanks may be closed. A closure occurs when the tank is removed from the ground or pumped out and filled with sand, concrete, or other inert substance. The owner or operator of an underground storage tank scheduled for closure must notify the environmental agency in advance, often 30 days before the closure.

If the tank is pulled out of the ground, soil samples must taken from the walls and floor of the cavity where the tank was. Those samples must be tested to determine whether contamination exists or the hole is clean. If it is clean, the soil may be replaced in the cavity. If it exceeds the state contaminant levels, the owner or operator begins the the process of remediation. Often, small amounts of impacted soil can be removed and sent to a recycling facility. However, if contamination is extensive, the owner or operator must develop a corrective action plan and get agency approval for remedial work.

Most states restrict abandonment or inplace closure. Some require a notice on deeds if the property contains an abandoned tank. A situation that favors an inplace closure would be if the removal of the tank would threaten the integrity of a building or other structure.

Tank owners and operators who leave a tank in the ground still have to make sure it has not leaked. Groundwater monitoring wells are likely to be required, as well as soil sampling. Cleanup follows if contamination is discovered. The cost of abandonment is about the same as removal.

Financial Responsibility

Since investigation and cleanup can be costly, owners and operators of underground storage tanks must demonstrate their financial ability to take care of any harm caused by a release [see financial responsibility]. They may use a number of different methods, such as insurance, selfinsurance, guarantee, trust fund, or state trust funds. The amount of financial capability necessary depends on the number of tanks and type of business the owner or operator is in.


RCRA resulted from growing public awareness. By 1984, when RCRA finally became a dynamic and effective statute, Americans knew they could not bury all their wastes and forget them. Hazardous waste sites are hard to handle once they start causing environmental and health problems. RCRA, therefore, aims to prevent future problems by regulating hazardous waste from the time it enters the waste stream until it is disposed of, recycled, or destroyed. See also characteristic waste; corrective action; derivedfrom rule; mixture rule; solid waste management unit.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.

Act Details

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was, as a bill, a proposal (now, a piece of legislation) introduced on 1975-07-21 in the House of Commons and Senate respectively of the 94 United States Congress by Jennings Randolph in relation with: Environmental protection, Pollution, Recycling of waste products, Refuse and refuse disposal, States.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act became law (1) in the United States on 1976-10-21

It was referred to the following Committee(s): (2)

Senate Public Works (SSEV)
House Interstate and Foreign Commerce (HSIF)

Jennings Randolph, member of the US congress
Jennings Randolph, Democrat, Senator from West Virginia

The proposal had the following cosponsors:

Gary Warren Hart, Democrat, Senator, from Colorado

Act Overview

  • Number: 2150 (3)
  • Official Title as Introduced: An Act to provide technical and financial assistance for the development of management plans and facilities for the recovery of energy and other resources from discarded materials and for the safe disposal of discarded materials, and to regulate the management of hazardous waste (4)
  • Short Title: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • Date First Introduced: 1975-07-21
  • Sponsor Name: Gary Warren Hart
  • Assignment Process: See Committe Assignments (5)
  • Latest Major Activity/Action: Enacted
  • Date Enacted (signed, in general (6), by President): 1976-10-21
  • Type: s (7)
  • Main Topic: Environmental protection
  • Related Bills: (8)

    hr14496-94, Reason: related, Type: bill

  • Summary of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: Govtrack. Authored by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress.
  • Primary Source: Congress Website

Text of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

(Measure passed House amended in lieu of H.R. 14496) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act – Amends the Solid Waste Disposal Act to revise “Title II: Solid Waste Disposal.” Expresses the intent and findings of Congress that alternative energy sources for public and private consumption are necessary to reduce dependence on petroleum natural gas and nuclear and hydroelectric generations as a power source. Establishes the objective of establishing a cooperative effort to recover potential energy sources and other valuable materials from discarded material. Directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and publish guidelines for solid waste management. Directs the Administrator to establish within the Agency an Office of Solid Waste to carry out administrative functions under the Solid Waste Disposal Act. Stipulates that such Office shall be headed by a Deputy Assistant Administrator of the EPA. Directs the Administrator of the EPA to perform enumerated functions including furnishing resource recovery and conservation personnel teams to States and local governments upon request. Authorizes Federal grants to public and private applicants to assist in the purchase of discarded tire shredders. Directs the Administrator to report annually to Congress on the activities of the Office of Solid Waste. Authorizes the appropriation of specified sums in fiscal years 1977 through 1979 to carry out the purposes of such Act. Directs the Administrator to establish criteria for identifying hazardous waste materials. Authorizes the Governor of any State not later than 18 months after the enactment of this title to petition the Administrator to identify or list a material as a hazardous waste. Establishes procedures for the development of standards to seasonably protect human health from hazardous waste. Directs the Administrator to establish a permit program to regulate the treatment storage and disposal of hazardous waste. Establishes requirements for application for such permits. Directs the Administrator to establish standards for State hazardous waste programs. Establishes procedures for authorization and withdrawal of authorization by the Administrator for the operation of State programs. Requires the operators of facilities regulated by this Act to allow authorized officials duly designated by the Administrator access to records relating to hazardous waste and to enter and inspect facilities at any reasonable time upon the furnishing of a written statement as to the reason for the inspection by the authorized official. Establishes procedures for Federal enforcement of hazardous waste regulations. Directs the Administrator to publish guidelines identifying those areas which have common discarded materials problems and are appropriate units for planning the management of such problems. Lists factors to be considered by the Administrator in developing such guidelines. Establishes minimum requirements for approval of plans by the Administrator. Directs the Administrator to establish criteria for classification of facilities as sanitary landfills. Stipulates that each State or regional plan shall require disposal of all discarded material in a sanitary landfill. Authorizes the appropriation of $30000000 for fiscal year 1978 and $40000000 for fiscal year 1979 for grants to States for the development and implementation of State plans. Directs the Administrator to make grants to States to provide assistance to municipalities with a population of five thousand or less or counties with a population of ten thousand or less or less than twenty persons per square mile and not within a metropolitan area for solid waste management facilities. Directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish accurate specifications for recovered materials to promote development of resource recovery technology and to stimulate the development of markets for recovered materials. Directs the Administrator to promulgate regulations which shall apply to any property facility or activity governing management of discarded materials. Requires Federal procurement agencies to maximize use of resource recovery and energy efficient methods in Federal procurement practices. Directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish guidelines for procurement agencies with recommended practices designed to encourage energy conservation and resource recovery. Prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who seek to enforce legally protected rights under such Act. Authorizes citizen suits in Federal district courts for alleged violations of provisions of such Act. Authorizes additional research and development designed to improve solid waste management practices in an environmentally sound manner. Directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a management program to coordinate solid waste research and development activities. Directs the Administrator to make special studies and reports on: (1) resource recovery from glass and plastic waste; (2) potential utility of future components of the solid waste stream; (3) promising techniques of energy recovery from solid waste; (4) systems of small-scale solid waste management; (5) compatibility of front-end source separation systems with high technology resource recovery systems; (6) solid waste from mining; (7) sludge; (8) discarded motor vehicle tires; (9) economics of resource recovery; (10) environmental social economic and other impacts of alternative waste reduction systems; and (11) hazards to aviation caused by birds congregating on landfull sites near airports. Directs the Administrator to collect and coordinate information on solid waste resource recovery and management practices to be housed in a central reference library. Authorizes the Administrator to make grants for the construction and operation of full-scale demonstration facilities. Requires the President to direct such executive agencies or departments as he deems appropriate to determine the best overall procedures for removing existing solid waste on Federal lands in Alaska.

Act Notes

  • [Note 1] An Act (like Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) or a resolution cannot become a law in the United States until it has been approved (passed) in identical form by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as signed by the President (but see (5)). If the two bodys of the Congress versions of an Act are not identical, one of the bodies might decide to take a further vote to adopt the bill (see more about the Congress process here). An Act may be pass in identical form with or without amendments and with or without conference. (see more about Enrollment).
  • [Note 2] Proposals are referred to committees for preliminary consideration, then debated, amended, and passed (or rejected) by the full House or Senate. To prevent endless shuttling of bills between the House and Senate, bills like Resource Conservation and Recovery Act are referred to joint committees made up of members of both houses.
  • [Note 3] For more information regarding this legislative proposal, go to THOMAS, select “Bill Number,” search on (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)
  • [Note 4] An Act to provide technical and financial assistance for the development of management plans and facilities for the recovery of energy and other resources from discarded materials and for the safe disposal of discarded materials, and to regulate the management of hazardous waste. The current official title of a bill is always present, assigned at introduction (for example, in this case, on 1975-07-21) and can be revised any time. This type of titles are sentences.
  • [Note 5] The Act is referred to the appropriate committee by the Speaker of any of the two Houses. Bills are placed on the calendar of the committee to which they have been assigned. See Assignment Process.
  • [Note 6] Regarding exceptions to President´s approval, a bill that is not signed (returned unsigned) by the President can still become law if at lest two thirds of each of the two bodys of the Congress votes to pass it, which is an infrequent case. See also Presidential Veto.
  • [Note 7] Legislative Proposal types can be: hr, hres, hjres, hconres, s, sres, sjres, sconres. A bill originating in the Senate is designated by the letter “S”, and a bill originating from the House of Representatives begins with “H.R.”, followed, in both cases, by its individual number which it retains throughout all its parliamentary process.
  • [Note 8] For information regarding related bill/s to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, go to THOMAS.


No analysis (criticism, advocacy, etc.) about Resource Conservation and Recovery Act submitted yet.

Environmental protection
Recycling of waste products
Refuse and refuse disposal

Further Reading

  • “How our laws are made”, Edward F Willett; Jack Brooks, Washington, U.S. G.P.O.
  • “To make all laws : the Congress of the United States, 1789-1989”, James H Hutson- Washington, Library of Congress.
  • “Bills introduced and laws enacted: selected legislative statistics, 1947-1990”, Rozanne M Barry; Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: 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 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This part provides references, in relation to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 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 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 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 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 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 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 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 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 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 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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