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Declaration of policy.

(1) Each person has a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment, and each person has a responsibility to preserve and enhance that right. The beneficial stewardship of the land, air, and waters of the state is a solemn obligation of the present generation for the benefit of future generations.
(2) A healthful environment is now threatened by the irresponsible use and disposal of hazardous substances. There are hundreds of hazardous waste sites in this state, and more will be created if current waste practices continue. Hazardous waste sites threaten the state's water resources, including those used for public drinking water. Many of our municipal landfills are current or potential hazardous waste sites and present serious threats to human health and environment. The costs of eliminating these threats in many cases are beyond the financial means of our local governments and ratepayers. The main purpose of chapter 2, Laws of 1989 is to raise sufficient funds to clean up all hazardous waste sites and to prevent the creation of future hazards due to improper disposal of toxic wastes into the state's land and waters.
(3) Many farmers and small business owners who have followed the law with respect to their uses of pesticides and other chemicals nonetheless may face devastating economic consequences because their uses have contaminated the environment or the water supplies of their neighbors. With a source of funds, the state may assist these farmers and business owners, as well as those persons who sustain damages, such as the loss of their drinking water supplies, as a result of the contamination.
(4) It is in the public's interest to efficiently use our finite land base, to integrate our land use planning policies with our clean-up policies, and to clean up and reuse contaminated industrial properties in order to minimize industrial development pressures on undeveloped land and to make clean land available for future social use.
(5) Because it is often difficult or impossible to allocate responsibility among persons liable for hazardous waste sites and because it is essential that sites be cleaned up well and expeditiously, each responsible person should be liable jointly and severally.
(6) Because releases of hazardous substances can adversely affect the health and welfare of the public, the environment, and property values, it is in the public interest that affected communities be notified of where releases of hazardous substances have occurred and what is being done to clean them up.
[ 2002 c 288 § 1; 1994 c 254 § 1; 1989 c 2 § 1 (Initiative Measure No. 97, approved November 8, 1988).]

NOTES:

Severability2002 c 288: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [ 2002 c 288 § 5.]
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