Natural Resource Damages (NRD) actions focus on the injury to the environment and the natural resources that belong to the public and are managed and protected in trust by certain federal, state and tribal governmental entities. Building on the public trust doctrine and common law rights traditionally vested in the sovereign, NRD statutes vest certain enumerated trustees with the ability to seek recovery for the public's loss of natural resources occasioned by a spill or discharge. By law, the types of natural resources covered and for which trustees are authorized to seek recovery include land, fish, wildlife, biota, air, water, ground water, drinking water supplies, and other such sources belonging to, managed by, held in trust by, appertaining to, or otherwise controlled by state and federal governments.
NRD statutes and the public trust doctrine permit trustees to recover for the past and future loss of the human uses of contaminated or impacted resources. NRD claims include restoration costs, equivalent resource replacement, loss of use of a resource, and assessment expenses. Assessing these damages is fact intensive and involves numerous experts and scientific studies. For example, an oil spill in a river, bay or gulf can cause substantial impacts upon the uses of such waterways, including: navigation and commerce, industry and jobs, commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, regional development and redevelopment, and even long-term regional growth, taxes, revenues and governmental services. Similarly, contamination of a groundwater aquifer that is serving as a regional water supply can impact the public's use of such a resource. NRD claims deal with this very difficult and expert witness-intensive analysis and quantification, which stand at the intersection of the environment and the economy. The potential expenses and magnitude of the claims often lead to litigation.
Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs, PC has unsurpassed experience in litigating and negotiating NRD matters. We have been retained by both trustee agencies and corporate clients to litigate, or resolve through alternative dispute resolution proceedings or negotiation, these most complex environmental matters.
Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs, PC currently represents natural resource trustees such as the State of New Jersey and the State of Louisiana in nationally significant NRD matters such as the Passaic River and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Likewise, the firm represents transportation sector clients in significant NRD matters like the Portland Harbor Superfund Site and the Clark Fork River Basin Superfund Sites. Similarly, the firm represents a client in connection with the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site in Galveston Bay, Texas.