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The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new rule under its Superfund law to clarify the situations under which lenders can be held liable for hazardous-waste cleanups.

"The new rule provides a welcome road map for bankers who lend to businesses with environmental risks, such as dry cleaners, gas stations, and farms," Alan Tubbs, president of the American Bankers Association, said after the EPA announcement a week ago.

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Lender uncertainty had increased after the 1990 Fleet Factors Corporation case, in which a federal court ruled that a creditor may be liable if it had the "capacity to influence" management decisions on waste.

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