Natural Resource Damages

We are one of the few firms in the country to have been retained by both governmental trustees and private sector clients, giving our attorneys a well-rounded perspective.

Kelley Drye has a unique and sophisticated natural resource damages (NRD) practice. Our attorneys have worked on NRD matters involving some of the largest waterways on the east and west coasts of the United States, the Gulf of Mexico, and on inland rivers and groundwater plumes across the country.

In addition to liability for cleanup costs, most state and federal environmental statutes impose liability for natural resource damages. For example, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) each provide that federal and state trustees, as well as tribal governments, may recover damages for injuries to natural resources and for the loss of human uses caused by hazardous substances, petroleum products, and oil spills.

As part of the record-setting $355 million settlement for the state of New Jersey in the Passaic River litigation, our lawyers secured $67.5 million in restoration projects that must be implemented in local, impacted communities to restore losses of human uses. By investing in parks, greenbelts, and access to the Passaic River, these restoration projects will also induce additional economic activity in historically underserved areas, thus benefiting the community and the settling parties.

Claims for NRD are appreciably different from claims for the costs associated with cleaning up petroleum products and hazardous substances spilled or discharged into the environment. Often, the repercussions of oil spills and discharges of hazardous substances into the environment, especially spills and discharges into surface waters like the nation’s rivers, bays, gulfs, and ports, reach far beyond any relief afforded by a cleanup. Such spills can have dramatic impacts upon marine life, the environment and the human uses of these natural resources.

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