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Title 15 Part 990 → Subpart B

Title 15 → Subtitle B → Chapter IX → Subchapter E → Part 990 → Subpart B

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 15 Part 990 → Subpart B

e-CFR data is current as of December 6, 2019

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter EPart 990 → Subpart B


Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 990—NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGE ASSESSMENTS


§990.20   Relationship to the CERCLA natural resource damage assessment regulations.

(a) General. Regulations for assessing natural resource damages resulting from hazardous substance releases under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq., and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act), 33 U.S.C. 1321 et seq., are codified at 43 CFR part 11. The CERCLA regulations originally applied to natural resource damages resulting from oil discharges as well as hazardous substance releases. This part supersedes 43 CFR part 11 with regard to oil discharges covered by OPA.

(b) Assessments commenced before February 5, 1996. If trustees commenced a natural resource damage assessment for an oil discharge under 43 CFR part 11 prior to February 5, 1996 they may complete the assessment in compliance with 43 CFR part 11, or they may elect to use this part, and obtain a rebuttable presumption.

(c) Oil and hazardous substance mixtures. For natural resource damages resulting from a discharge or release of a mixture of oil and hazardous substances, trustees must use 43 CFR part 11 in order to obtain a rebuttable presumption.

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§990.21   Relationship to the NCP.

This part provides procedures by which trustees may determine appropriate restoration of injured natural resources and services, where such injuries are not fully addressed by response actions. Response actions and the coordination with damage assessment activities are conducted pursuant to the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), 40 CFR part 300.

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§990.22   Prohibition on double recovery.

When taking actions under this part, trustees are subject to the prohibition on double recovery, as provided in 33 U.S.C. 2706(d)(3) of OPA.

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§990.23   Compliance with NEPA and the CEQ regulations.

(a) General. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations implementing NEPA, 40 CFR chapter V, apply to restoration actions by federal trustees, except where a categorical exclusion or other exception to NEPA applies. Thus, when a federal trustee proposes to take restoration actions under this part, it must integrate this part with NEPA, the CEQ regulations, and NEPA regulations promulgated by that federal trustee agency. Where state NEPA-equivalent laws may apply to state trustees, state trustees must consider the extent to which they must integrate this part with their NEPA-equivalent laws. The requirements and process described in this section relate only to NEPA and federal trustees.

(b) NEPA requirements for federal trustees. NEPA becomes applicable when federal trustees propose to take restoration actions, which begins with the development of a Draft Restoration Plan under §990.55 of this part. Depending upon the circumstances of the incident, federal trustees may need to consider early involvement of the public in restoration planning in order to meet their NEPA compliance requirements.

(c) NEPA process for federal trustees. Although the steps in the NEPA process may vary among different federal trustees, the process will generally involve the need to develop restoration plans in the form of an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement, depending upon the trustee agency's own NEPA regulations.

(1) Environmental Assessment. (i) Purpose. The purpose of an Environmental Assessment (EA) is to determine whether a proposed restoration action will have a significant (as defined under NEPA and §1508.27 of the CEQ regulations) impact on the quality of the human environment, in which case an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluating the impact is required. In the alternative, where the impact will not be significant, federal trustees must issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) as part of the restoration plans developed under this part. If significant impacts to the human environment are anticipated, the determination to proceed with an EIS may be made as a result, or in lieu, of the development of the EA.

(ii) General steps. (A) If the trustees decide to pursue an EA, the trustees may issue a Notice of Intent to Prepare a Draft Restoration Plan/EA, or proceed directly to developing a Draft Restoration Plan/EA.

(B) The Draft Restoration Plan/EA must be made available for public review before concluding a FONSI or proceeding with an EIS.

(C) If a FONSI is concluded, the restoration planning process should be no different than under §990.55 of this part, except that the Draft Restoration Plan/EA will include the FONSI analysis.

(D) The time period for public review on the Draft Restoration Plan/EA must be consistent with the federal trustee agency's NEPA requirements, but should generally be no less than thirty (30) calendar days.

(E) The Final Restoration Plan/EA must consider all public comments on the Draft Restoration Plan/EA and FONSI.

(F) The means by which a federal trustee requests, considers, and responds to public comments on the Draft Restoration Plan/EA and FONSI must also be consistent with the federal agency's NEPA requirements.

(2) Environmental Impact Statement. (i) Purpose. The purpose of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is to involve the public and facilitate the decisionmaking process in the federal trustees' analysis of alternative approaches to restoring injured natural resources and services, where the impacts of such restoration are expected to have significant impacts on the quality of the human environment.

(ii) General steps. (A) If trustees determine that restoration actions are likely to have a significant (as defined under NEPA and §1508.27 of the CEQ regulations) impact on the environment, they must issue a Notice of Intent to Prepare a Draft Restoration Plan/EIS. The notice must be published in the Federal Register.

(B) The notice must be followed by formal public involvement in the development of the Draft Restoration Plan/EIS.

(C) The Draft Restoration Plan/EIS must be made available for public review for a minimum of forty-five (45) calendar days. The Draft Restoration Plan/EIS, or a notice of its availability, must be published in the Federal Register.

(D) The Final Restoration Plan/EIS must consider all public comments on the Draft Restoration Plan/EIS, and incorporate any changes made to the Draft Restoration Plan/EIS in response to public comments.

(E) The Final Restoration Plan/EIS must be made publicly available for a minimum of thirty (30) calendar days before a decision is made on the federal trustees' proposed restoration actions (Record of Decision). The Final Restoration Plan/EIS, or a notice of its availability, must be published in the Federal Register.

(F) The means by which a federal trustee agency requests, considers, and responds to public comments on the Final Restoration Plan/EIS must also be consistent with the federal agency's NEPA requirements.

(G) After appropriate public review on the Final Restoration Plan/EIS is completed, a Record of Decision (ROD) is issued. The ROD summarizes the trustees' decisionmaking process after consideration of any public comments relative to the proposed restoration actions, identifies all restoration alternatives (including the preferred alternative(s)), and their environmental consequences, and states whether all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm were adopted (e.g., monitoring and corrective actions). The ROD may be incorporated with other decision documents prepared by the trustees. The means by which the ROD is made publicly available must be consistent with the federal trustee agency's NEPA requirements.

(d) Relationship to Regional Restoration Plans or an existing restoration project. If a Regional Restoration Plan or existing restoration project is proposed for use, federal trustees may be able to tier their NEPA analysis to an existing EIS, as described in §§1502.20 and 1508.28 of the CEQ regulations.

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§990.24   Compliance with other applicable laws and regulations.

(a) Worker health and safety. When taking actions under this part, trustees must comply with applicable worker health and safety considerations specified in the NCP for response actions.

(b) Natural Resources protection. When acting under this part, trustees must ensure compliance with any applicable consultation, permitting, or review requirements, including but not limited to: the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, 16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.; the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.; the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.; the National Historic Preservation Act, 12 U.S.C. 470 et seq.; the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.; and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.

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§990.25   Settlement.

Trustees may settle claims for natural resource damages under this part at any time, provided that the settlement is adequate in the judgment of the trustees to satisfy the goal of OPA and is fair, reasonable, and in the public interest, with particular consideration of the adequacy of the settlement to restore, replace, rehabilitate, or acquire the equivalent of the injured natural resources and services. Sums recovered in settlement of such claims, other than reimbursement of trustee costs, may only be expended in accordance with a restoration plan, which may be set forth in whole or in part in a consent decree or other settlement agreement, which is made available for public review.

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§990.26   Emergency restoration.

(a) Trustees may take emergency restoration action before completing the process established under this part, provided that:

(1) The action is needed to avoid irreversible loss of natural resources, or to prevent or reduce any continuing danger to natural resources or similar need for emergency action;

(2) The action will not be undertaken by the lead response agency;

(3) The action is feasible and likely to succeed;

(4) Delay of the action to complete the restoration planning process established in this part likely would result in increased natural resource damages; and

(5) The costs of the action are not unreasonable.

(b) If response actions are still underway, trustees must coordinate with the On-Scene Coordinator (OSC), consistent with the NCP, to ensure that emergency restoration actions will not interfere with or duplicate ongoing response actions. Emergency restoration may not address residual oil unless:

(1) The OSC's response is complete; or

(2) The OSC has determined that the residual oil identified by the trustee as part of a proposed emergency restoration action does not merit further response.

(c) Trustees must provide notice to identified responsible parties of any emergency restoration actions and, to the extent time permits, invite their participation in the conduct of those actions as provided in §990.14(c) of this part.

(d) Trustees must provide notice to the public, to the extent practicable, of these planned emergency restoration actions. Trustees must also provide public notice of the justification for, nature and extent of, and results of emergency restoration actions within a reasonable time frame after completion of such actions. The means by which this notice is provided is left to the discretion of the trustee.

[61 FR 500, Jan. 5, 1996, as amended at 67 FR 61492, Oct. 1, 2002]

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§990.27   Use of assessment procedures.

(a) Standards for assessment procedures. Any procedures used pursuant to this part must comply with all of the following standards if they are to be in accordance with this part:

(1) The procedure must be capable of providing assessment information of use in determining the type and scale of restoration appropriate for a particular injury;

(2) The additional cost of a more complex procedure must be reasonably related to the expected increase in the quantity and/or quality of relevant information provided by the more complex procedure; and

(3) The procedure must be reliable and valid for the particular incident.

(b) Assessment procedures available. (1) The range of assessment procedures available to trustees includes, but is not limited to:

(i) Procedures conducted in the field;

(ii) Procedures conducted in the laboratory;

(iii) Model-based procedures, including type A procedures identified in 43 CFR part 11, subpart D, and compensation formulas/schedules; and

(iv) Literature-based procedures.

(2) Trustees may use the assessment procedures in paragraph (b)(1) of this section alone, or in any combination, provided that the standards in paragraph (a) of this section are met, and there is no double recovery.

(c) Selecting assessment procedures. (1) When selecting assessment procedures, trustees must consider, at a minimum:

(i) The range of procedures available under paragraph (b) of this section;

(ii) The time and cost necessary to implement the procedures;

(iii) The potential nature, degree, and spatial and temporal extent of the injury;

(iv) The potential restoration actions for the injury; and

(v) The relevance and adequacy of information generated by the procedures to meet information requirements of restoration planning.

(2) If a range of assessment procedures providing the same type and quality of information is available, the most cost-effective procedure must be used.

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