European Parliament backs ?polluter pays? law

The European Parliament in Strasbourg has passed an initial
draft of an EU-wide law that would force polluters to pay for their
environmental damage, reports the BBC?s William Horsley.

While similar in principle to the American Superfund law, the
European proposal goes much further, requiring companies that deal
in hazardous materials ?to take out full insurance cover, or give
guarantees that they can pay for the cost of environmental
clean-ups,? Horsley writes.

Environmentalists praised the action, which passed the full
parliament after MEPs (Members of European Parliament) rejected
industry attempts to weaken the measure with exemptions for
businesses operating under official permits or with the best
available technology.

The measure, known as the ?Environmental Liability Directive,?
must now go through several more procedural steps before it becomes
law. But its early passage is seen as a signal that MEPs take
Europeans? growing concern over environmental issues seriously.
Public sentiment for stronger regulations has been spurred in
recent years by major chemical spills in Spain, Hungary and
Romania, and oil spills off the French and Spanish coasts.

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