February 5, 2004
Expediting Natural Resource Restoration: Conducting Cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessments
While federal and state agencies work to clean up sites affected by hazardous substance releases and oil spills, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other co-trustee agencies conduct a parallel but different effort called natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) to assess injuries to natural resources and their services. Damage assessment ensures that, in addition to the cleanup, the public’s natural resources are restored after a hazardous substance release or oil spill. Increasingly, trustee agencies are trying to work cooperatively with industry to expedite restoration of injured resources and resolve liability issues while cutting process costs and reducing the possibility of litigation.
But why do comparable sites contaminated by hazardous substances take drastically different paths and timelines to restore natural resource injuries? What made restoration more efficient at one site and not the other? How can affected parties move more quickly toward resolving liability and restoring the public’s injured resources at the numerous sites contaminating our lands and waters?
On February 5, 2004 ELI held an Associates Seminar which explored approaches and mechanisms to foster and improve cooperation at hazardous substance and oil spill sites, highlighting recent damage assessment cases. Panelists included William Conner (Chief, Damage Assessment Center, NOAA), Mark Davis (Director, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana), Ron Gouguet (Chief, Coastal Resource Coordinator, NOAA), and Barry Hartman (Partner, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP). John Pendergrass (Senior Attorney and Co-Director of Brownfields Center, ELI) moderated the discussion.