In Long Beach Unified School Dist. v. Dorothy B. Godwin California Living Trust, the Ninth Circuit held that the holder of an easement burdening land which contains a hazardous waste facility is not, by virtue of that interest alone, liable for cleanup costs as an "owner or operator" under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (hereinafter "CERCLA"). The court reasoned that under common principles of property law, easement holders have a limited right to use the land of another but do not own the land itself, and therefore, should not be considered owners for the purposes of CERCLA liability.
Heidi P. Poppe,
Environmental Law - Long Beach Unified School District v. Dorothy B. Godwin Living Trust, et al., And Mobil Oil Corporation, Powerine Oil Company: Determining The Scope Of Easement Holder Liability Under CERCLA, 25 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.