The U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (Restoration Program) operates under a series of laws, regulations, and authorizing statutes. Additional Program guidance arises from Executive Orders and Departmental policies.
Laws and Regulations
Three laws, and their accompanying regulations, form the legal foundation for the NRDA Restoration Program and provide trustees with the legal authority to carry out Restoration Program responsibilities. These laws and regulations authorize and direct the DOI to take appropriate actions necessary to protect and restore the natural resources (and services provided by those natural resources) under its trusteeship that have been injured by a release of a hazardous substance or discharge, or a substantial threat of discharge of oil.
In addition to the three laws and their accompanying regulations above, the NRDA Restoration Program also refers to the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), as amended (40 CFR 300), issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The NCP regulations provide for efficient, coordinated, and effective action to minimize adverse effects from oil discharges and hazardous substance releases.
Authority and Authorizing Statutes
As authorized by CERCLA, OPA, and CWA, injuries to natural resources that the DOI manages or controls are assessed, and appropriate restoration projects are identified in contemplation of negotiated settlements or legal actions (in rare cases) with potentially responsible parties. Recoveries, in cash or in-kind services, from the potentially responsible parties are then used to finance or implement the restoration of the injured resources, pursuant to a publicly reviewed restoration plan.
District Court Decisions Regarding NRDAR Regulations
In addition to the laws, regulations, and authorizing statutes described above, the NRDA Restoration Program operates under a series of Departmental policies and guidelines.
Departmental Policies consist of policy letters, memorandums, or bulletins issued by authorized Department management officials that generally provide policy guidance for the DOI based on broader government regulations. For further information on the policies that the NRDA Restoration Program operates under, please refer to the links/documents below.
In ascending order by date (most recent policy first):
Departmental Manual Guidelines
Permanent policy documents approved by the Secretary of the Interior or the Assistant Secretary - Policy, Management and Budget are incorporated into the Department of Interior's Departmental Manual (DM). These policy documents may include: organization descriptions; delegations of authority; and standards for administrative, legal, legislative, informational, and program activities within the DOI. The particular Parts and Chapters of the DM applicable to the NRDAR Program can be found below.
Executive Orders (EOs)
EOs are legally binding instructions given by the President, acting as the head of the Executive Branch, to federal administrative agencies. EOs are used to direct federal agencies and officials in their execution of established laws or policies. EOs, numbered consecutively, are printed in the daily Federal Register after being signed by the President. The following EOs pertain to natural resource damage assessment and restoration activities.