DOI's Office of Restoration and Damage Assessment opens 60-day Public Comment Period on Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Last edited 09/03/2020

The Office of Restoration and Damage Assessment (ORDA) is seeking comments and suggestions from State, Tribal, and Federal natural resource co-trustees, other affected parties, and the interested public on whether revisions to the regulations for conducting natural resource damage assessments and restoration (NRDAR) for hazardous substance releases are needed, and if so, what specific revisions should be considered.

The regulations provide procedures that State, Tribal, and Federal natural resource co-trustees may use to evaluate the need for and means of restoring, replacing, or acquiring the equivalent of public natural resources that are injured or destroyed because of releases of hazardous substances into the environment. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)—which authorizes natural resource damage claims by States, federally recognized Indian Tribes, and the Federal government—specifies that the regulations are optional, but if the State, Tribal, and Federal governments (described as natural resource “co-trustees” by CERCLA) utilize them, they are entitled to a “rebuttable presumption” on their claim in any subsequent legal proceeding.

This notice seeks comment and suggestions in response to the CERCLA biennial review requirement and Executive Order 13777 (February 24, 2017), which directed the Department of the Interior (DOI) and other Federal agencies to establish Regulatory Reform Task Forces to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding repeal, replacement, or modification, consistent with applicable law.

We are interested in comments or suggestions that improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the NRDAR process. An internal biennial review of the CERCLA NRDAR regulations identified some remaining issues from the NRDAR FACA Committee Report that could be addressed, and NRDAR practice issues that have developed or progressed since the last revision of the regulations. DOI is particularly interested in comments and suggestions related to Simplification and Plain Language, Type A Regulations, Early Emphasis on Restoration Over Damages, Procedures to Further Encourage Negotiated Settlements and Early Restoration, Advance Restoration and Restoration Banking, and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance. We also welcome comments and suggestions on any other aspect of the regulations that trustees, stakeholders, and the general public would like us to consider.

View the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Federal Register.

You may submit comments to ORDA on this ANPRM by any of the following methods. Please reference the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) DOI-2018-0006 in your comments.

  • Electronically:  In the “Search” box enter “DOI-2018-0006.” Follow the instructions to submit public comments. We will post all comments.
  • Hand deliver or mail comments to the Office of Restoration and Damage Assessment, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street Northwest, Mail Stop/Room 5538, Washington, DC 20240.

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