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Natural Resource Damage Assessment: Methods and Cases

Natural Resource Damage Assessment: Methods and Cases

Chapter 2: Tables

Chapter 2: Tables and Figures Figure 2.1 Number of Spills by Size of Spill in 2000..............................................................27 Figure 2.2 Volume of Oil Spilled in U.S. Waters by Spill Size in 2000 ..................................27 Figure 2.3 Oil Spills in U.S. Waters by State in 2000 ..............................................................28 Figure 2.4 Damages in Washington Cases, 1991-2001............................................................35 Figure 2.5 Value of Claim by Gallons Spilled in WA State, 1991-2001..................................35 Figure 2.6 Damages in Florida Cases, 1995-2001....................................................................40 Figure 2.7 Superfund Sites by State..........................................................................................41 24

I. Introduction Chapter 2 Simplified Methods for Natural Resource Damage Assessment 1 Natural resources can be injured when hazardous materials, such as oil and toxic chemicals, are released into the environment. It can be difficult to assess the value of those natural resource damages (NRD) because the lost benefits are often not the subject of market trades, and thus do not have prices that analysts can use to evaluate the loss to society due to degradation or destruction. Nonetheless, the state agencies that have been designated to act as trustees for the people of their states have fiduciary responsibility to engage in NRD Assessment (NRDA). Otherwise, they have no basis on which to file a claim to recover the value of lost or damaged resources according to the NRD provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), or related state law. Economists have built up an extremely large body of work which develops sophisticated valuation methods, such as contingent valuation, averting behavior analysis, hedonic analysis, and travel cost analysis. While these methods may be used to generate reasonably accurate casespecific estimates of NRDs, they have drawbacks that make them difficult to use. They are timeconsuming, since a study must be conducted to evaluate the exact magnitude and nature of the injury to natural resources, and then additional analysis must be carried out in order to ascertain the value of the injured resources to society. If a trustee opts for one (or more) of these valuation methods, much time will pass before the case is settled and the potentially responsible party (PRP) compensates the public for the lost values. A full-fledged assessment requires extensive data, which may not be available for old or small releases. Finally, these methods are expensive – it can cost millions of dollars to carry out a sophisticated NRDA. The data collection involved is costly, and substantial expertise is required to carry out these valuation efforts that may require the trustee to retain (or contract out to) highly trained, and thus costly, personnel. In practice, many states use valuation methods that are faster, less costly, less information intensive, and less precise than case-specific methods such as those mentioned above. Such methods may be simple formulas or computer programs. Of 38 cases about which we have gathered information, state trustees used some sort of simplified in-house valuation method for 13 of them, benefits transfer for six of them, and a simplified method designed by a federal agency 2 for three of them. In addition, hundreds of cases are assessed and settled by states such as Washington and Florida using state-specific simplified assessment methods. This chapter describes and critiques some of the more formal simplified methods used by the trustee agencies of four states: Florida, Washington, New Jersey, and Minnesota. We work to 1 We are grateful to staff members at the Washington Department of Ecology, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for sharing information about their assessment methods with us. 2 This could be either the Type A computer model designed by the Department of the Interior or the compensation schedule designed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. 25

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