Lyndsie Dundas


Climate change will bring more extreme weather, including increased flooding and wind damage, to all stretches of the United States. These effects of climate change will cause profound consequences for communities living near sites with a legacy of toxic waste. With 1,883 Superfund sites on the National Priorities List and countless other U.S. properties with some degree of contamination, climate change will result in increased risk of exposure for surrounding local populations and environments. Currently, the Hazard Ranking System does not consider effects of climate change when calculating the risk a site poses to the public. Without considering associated climate risks, the sites are not accurately ranked on the National Priorities list, and resources under CERCLA may not be adequately allocated.

This Comment explores an approach to modifying the current CERCLA regime to account for climate change while calculating a site's score under the Hazard Ranking System. I argue that the process of ranking sites on the National Priorities List must be updated to account for associated climate risks. This change should be made by updating the current formula through rulemaking by the Environmental Protection Agency.