Purpose: Improve the efficiency of restoration through a proactive and collaborative planning effort.
Overview: Federal and Louisiana natural
resource trustees are developing a statewide comprehensive Regional
Restoration Planning Program (RRP Program) including Regional
Restoration Plans (RRPs) to assist the natural resource trustees
in carrying out their responsibilities for discharges or substantial
threats of discharges of oil (referred to as an "incident").
The goal of this planning effort is to establish a statewide program
that will: expedite and potentially reduce the cost of the Natural
Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process; provide for consistency
and predictability by detailing the NRDA process, thereby minimizing
uncertainty to the public and industry; and increase restoration
of lost natural resources and services.
Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA),
33 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., and the Louisiana
Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1991 (OSPRA), La.
Rev. Stat. 30:2451 et seq., are the principal federal and state
statutes authorizing federal and state agencies and tribal officials
to act as natural resource trustees for the recovery of damages
for injuries to natural resources resulting from an unauthorized
discharge or substantial threat of a discharge of oil in Louisiana.
The federally designated natural resource trustees include the
U. S. Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration [NOAA]), U. S. Department of the Interior, U.S.
Department of Agriculture, U. S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department
of Defense, and the federally recognized tribes. On the state
level, the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, Office of
the Governor (LOSCO); Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
(LDNR); Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ);
and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) have
been entrusted with this responsibility.
The RRP Program is being established
to address substantial threats and unauthorized discharges of
oil under OPA and OSPRA. The proposed RRP Program does not address
injuries from releases of hazardous substances under the Comprehensive,
Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA),
42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq., or physical injuries to resources
under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1431
et seq., should a sanctuary be designated in the State of Louisiana,
but this does not necessarily preclude its use for other purposes
in the future.
Broad guidelines and the basic
requirements of OPA provide the necessary direction for developing
RRPs. These guidelines and requirements are contained in 15
C.F.R. Part 990. In summary, the general provisions concerning
regional restoration plans are that they:
- Are tools trustees should consider
"as a means to enhance successful restoration planning and
implementation" (Preamble to OPA Regulations, Subpart A,
VI, A, 61 Fed. Reg. 440 [Jan. 5, 1996]);
may consist of compiling
databases that identify, on a regional or watershed basis, or
otherwise as appropriate, existing, planned, or proposed restoration
projects that may provide appropriate restoration alternatives
for consideration in the context of specific incidents"
(15 C.F.R. § 990.15);
must be capable
of fulfilling OPA's intent for the trustees to restore, rehabilitate,
replace, or acquire the equivalent of the injured natural resources
and/or services," and can be used provided that the plan:
- ¨ Was developed with public
review and comment or is subject to review and comment;
- ¨ Will adequately compensate
the environment and public for injuries resulting from the incident;
- ¨ Addresses, and is currently
relevant to, the same or comparable natural resources and services
as those identified as having been injured; and
- ¨ Allows for reasonable
scaling relative to the incident" (15 C.F.R. §990.56).
The development of the proposed
RRP Program is a coordinated effort between state and federal
natural resource agencies, local governments, and the public.
The Louisiana RRP Program will
be jointly administered and used by the trustees to assist in
carrying out their natural resource trust mandates under the OPA