Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs, PC has a unique 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. Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs, PC is one of the few law firms in the country to have been retained by both governmental trustees and private sector clients to represent them in NRD matters, giving our attorneys a unique and well-informed perspective in these large and exceptionally complicated environmental matters.
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. Similarly, in certain circumstances, private parties may bring contribution claims for NRD.
Claims for NRD are appreciably different from, and in addition to, 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 the marine life, environment, and the human uses of these natural resources.
For example, when the Exxon tanker Valdez released an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in 1989, it contaminated more than 11,000 square miles of ocean and over 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline, resulting in clean up costs of approximately $2 billion. Moreover, the Exxon Valdez spill caused an additional $1 billion in natural resource damages and impacts to the public. BP's oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico is anticipated to cause natural resource damages that will far eclipse the Exxon Valdez spill.