Regulatory Spotlight: New Jersey Natural Resource Damages Activity Prompts Need for Reform
Recent news of lawsuits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and NJ Spill Compensation fund, including compensation for alleged natural resource damages (NRD), has the regulated community wondering if this represents a shift in enforcement policy. Filed without federal involvement, these cases regarding the Pohatcong Valley Superfund Site in Warren County, the Deull Fuel property in Atlantic City, and the Port Reading Terminal in Woodbridge Township are significant.
NRD claims arise from releases of hazardous substances that have resulted in injuries to natural resources (loss or impairment of ecological function) or the deprivation of natural resource services (e.g. water supply, recreation, ecological services) above and beyond those monies or work required to remediate the release.
Prior to the announcement of these lawsuits, recognition of the need to reform the process prompted the New Jersey Senate Environment Committee to establish an NRD work group to make recommendations for how to calculate the economic value of NRD injuries as well as to explore legal, policy and procedural issues. New Jersey has not enacted regulations governing NRD claims.
On behalf of the interest of our clients, Langan is closely engaged in reforming the NRD process. Langan Principal Caryn Barnes, LSRP, PG participated in the first of the NRD Work Group Meetings on July 30th, 2018. The work group is comprised of representatives from government, business and industry, the legal community, and environmental advocacy groups, as well as representatives of the New Jersey Licensed Site Remediation Professionals Association (NJ LSRPA).
Scientists at Langan have direct experience with assessing NRD damages, cost recovery, and natural resources repair, replacement and restoration in New Jersey, as well as through Superfund and Oil Pollution Act projects. We have helped clients with the technical aspects of NRD negotiations and designing remedial strategies to limit NRD exposure while incorporating the protection and restoration of natural resources into the remedy at the onset of the project.