Officials seek to “improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness” of NRDAs — which could help expedite the resolution of claims.

By Janice M. Schneider, Gary P. Gengel, Joel C. Beauvais, Kegan A. Brown, and Thomas C. Pearce

On August 27, 2018, the US Department of the Interior (DOI) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) requesting comments by October 26, 2018 on potential changes to its natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) regulations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). This law authorizes federal, state, and tribal trustees to recover natural resource damages (NRD) for injuries to natural resources resulting from hazardous substance releases. NRDAs that follow the DOI regulations are entitled to a rebuttable presumption of validity in later court proceedings.

In the ANPR, DOI seeks input on how to “improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness” of NRDAs and accelerate restoration of injured natural resources. While there are many areas in which to improve the regulations that will be considered, DOI specifically requests comment on the following six issues: