Note on Contingent Environmental Liabilities

Case Solution

Richard H.K. Vietor, Forest L. Reinhardt, Jackie P. Roberts
Harvard Business School ()

Addresses contingent environmental liabilities that are the result of unforeseen environmental risks whose amount is unknown in US dollars and depends on future events. In contrast, fines for violating environmental laws are liabilities, but they are not considered contingent liabilities because such fines are relatively predictable. Covers responsibilities under common law doctrines (including toxic tort), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCA), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). In particular, it has covered liability issues for lenders since 1993 and briefly discusses financial reporting requirements. It concludes with a discussion of the strategies to deal with these liabilities.

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