Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDA Restoration) is the process used to determine whether public natural resources have been injured, destroyed, or lost as a result of a release of hazardous substances or oil and to identify actions and funds needed to restore such resources. NRDAR is authorized by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). These statutes designate Federal, State and Tribal government officials to act as ‘trustees” on behalf of the public to recover damages from responsible parties to restore injured, destroyed, or lost natural resources. Damages can include money for trustee implementation of restoration actions and/or actual work undertaken by responsible parties with trustee oversight.
Every action the NRDA Restoration Program carries out is done with the goal of restoration in mind. The eventual restoration of injured natural resources drives the damage assessment process and provides the basis for the damage claim. Over ninety percent of all funds received from natural resource damage case settlements and judicial agreements are designated as restoration funds. After the development of a publicly-reviewed restoration plan, the Program and co-trustees implement restoration projects, often in partnership with non-governmental groups, local governments, or even the responsible party. Through these actions, injured natural resources and the services they provide are restored at the expense of the responsible party, not the taxpaying public.