The Commonwealth of Massachusetts manages natural resources such as fish, shellfish, wildlife, and rare species, groundwater, rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands and holds them in trust for the public. NRD authority applies to injuries to natural resources resulting from releases of oil or hazardous materials or substances. Only federal, state, and tribal Trustees may recover for NRD subject to their jurisdiction on behalf of the public. The NRD process generally includes injury assessment and quantification, determination of monetary damages to compensate the public for the injuries, and restoration planning and implementation to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the injured resources.
Since 1992, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, working in cooperation with federal Trustees, has successfully negotiated 20 Natural Resource Damages (NRD) settlements with parties responsible for injuries to natural resources from releases of oil and hazardous substances and materials.
The overall goal of a NRD action is to restore injured resources. The NRD action may also include compensation to the public for the lost use (including human use) of the injured resource from onset of injury to completion of restoration.
The Commonwealth, in cooperation with the Federal Trustees, has successfully negotiated NRD case settlements and is committed to implementing a comprehensive NRD program which requires polluters to restore injured resources and to compensate the public for the inability to use and enjoy those resources.
In Massachusetts, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) is working with federal Trustees to conduct assessments at several sites.
The President, the Governors of each state, and Native American tribes each designate officials who may act on behalf of the public as trustees for natural resources. Trustees rely on several authorities to bring an action or claim against a responsible party for damages for injury to natural resources.
Trustees assess injuries to natural resources resulting from spills and releases of oil and hazardous materials and substances, bring claims against responsible parties for monetary damages to compensate the public for these injuries, and plan and implement projects to restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of natural resources and the services that they provide to the environment and the public. Restoration projects must relate or have a nexus to natural resources and/or natural resource services that were injured by the spills or releases associated with the settlements. MassDEP and other Natural Resource Trustees identify restoration projects through solicitations for restoration ideas and proposals through formal restoration planning processes as well as grant announcements.