Techniques to Reduce Legal Expenses Have Not Been Used Often Gao ID: T-RCED-94-44 November 4, 1993

Parties responsible for cleaning up hazardous waste sites have been complaining about excessive costs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has several tools at its disposal to reduce such transaction costs. These tools range from expedited settlements for parties responsible for small quantities of low-toxicity waste to mixed-funding agreements between EPA and responsible parties to share cleanup costs. GAO testified that EPA has made little use of these settlement tools, mainly because EPA has not strongly encouraged its regional offices to use them. EPA has been primarily concerned with getting as many responsible-party-financed cleanups underway as quickly as possible and has viewed the settlement tools as diverting enforcement resources from this effort. Although EPA has been giving the settlement tools more priority recently, its efforts at this point are not fully operational but mostly involve pilot projects at selected regions. GAO generally supports the use of settlement tools to lower transaction costs, but expanded use of one of these tools--mixed funding--could prove expensive for the government and could complicate settlement negotiations.

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