Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)
Building on more than 30 years of experience, IEc provides a unique blend of applied ecological sciences and natural resource economics. Our services include:
- Designing and managing technical field studies that document natural resource injuries;
- Applying economic methods that translate changes in natural resource services into monetary measures of damages; and
- Defining and scaling restoration options and assessing their cost effectiveness.
We work closely with clients to understand the unique needs of each case and use that information to identify appropriate strategies and methods. IEc’s NRDA services are dedicated to helping clients resolve damages claims successfully and efficiently.
Oil releases to marine environments can cause complex injuries and pose analytic challenges in the NRDA context. As a prime contractor to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) since 1991, IEc has assisted federal and state government agencies in assessing natural resource damages associated with dozens of oil spills. Our support activities have spanned the life of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, extending from formative work on the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, to the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
IEc manages teams of technical experts who respond immediately to oil spills and collect the physical, biological, and economic data central to subsequent damage assessment efforts. We also develop rapid assessment tools, guidance documents, and training programs for field assessment personnel.
IEc helps public agencies and private landowners assess the nature and scope of lost ecological and cultural services and design compensatory conservation programs for such losses resulting from wildfires. This work has become essential as the frequency and size of wildfires in the U.S. and the legal and scientific frameworks for NRDA evolve. IEc developed the first NRDA framework for forest-based ecological service losses stemming from the 1994 Big Creek Fire for the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Since then IEc has supported natural resource damage claims for federal, state and local agencies in some of the most well-known wildfire cases, including the 2000 Storrie Fire, 2007 Moonlight Fire, 2007 Witch/Guejito Fire Complex and 2015 Butte Fire. In addition to our experience with large-scale wildfires, IEc has achieved successful outcomes for numerous smaller cases, for example, for private landowners and land conservation districts seeking compensation for conservation easements burned by wildfire.
While groundwater injuries can sometimes be framed in terms of water supply impacts, solutions may be less obvious when contamination does not involve the closure of public or private water supply wells. IEc’s innovative approaches for developing groundwater damage claims recognize state policy and regulation while drawing upon established economic literature on public values for groundwater.
IEc has supported groundwater cases at more than 40 sites in 18 states and territories. Our services have included:
- Estimation of property value losses attributable to groundwater contamination;
- Technical support for the adjudication of an aquifer allocation dispute between neighboring states; and
- Development of state-specific groundwater damage assessment methodologies.
IEc frequently supports NRDA cases and restoration actions involving sites with historical environmental contamination. We have directed research for some of the most visible and influential cases in the past several decades. For instance, IEc provided analytic and legal support related to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contamination of New Bedford Harbor in Massachusetts; PCB contamination of the Hudson River; and plutonium-related contamination at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. In addition to its success at large, complex sites, IEc has achieved successful outcomes at numerous smaller sites, where federal, state, and tribal actors seek restoration of injured natural resources.