The Department of the Interior released their Budget Justifications for the arm of the agency that handles restoration efforts after oil spills or the release hazardous chemicals into the environment.
The Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (Restoration Program) requested appropriations for $7,933,000 for fiscal year 2022, $166,000 more than the amount enacted for fiscal year 2021. Much of these funds—an estimated $619 million—are from permanent funds from legal settlements or agreements with responsible parties based on damage assessments. Such funds include the influx from the finalized settlement for impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, a massive spill that effected the ocean and shoreline habitats of the Southern US from Texas to Florida. The total also includes fiscal year 2022’s fixed costs of $166,000.
The Restoration Program engages in several distinct activities to support environmental cleanup and the transformation of negatively impacted areas into thriving habitats and recreational areas. Damage assessments are the first step, and include deriving the “source, effect, and magnitude of the impairment…which then forms the basis for a claim for appropriate compensation.” As of the writing of the Restoration Program’s Budget Justifications, there were 20 sites with assessment efforts ongoing. An estimated 50 additional ongoing cases will proceed toward settlement, with 7 settling in 2022.
Restoration support is undertaken by the program to develop and implement unique plans to overcome and resolve environmental issues. The program estimates the “cumulative restoration of 46,573 acres and 144 stream or shoreline miles.” This will be an increase over previous years, due in large part to the continued delivery of settlement funds from the Deepwater Horizon spill and the continual efforts at mitigating damage and restoring the effected habitats. Restoration support includes both restoring resources and access to outdoor recreation.
A list of sites that have previously or are currently undergoing damage assessment and restoration within the program are available in the form of an interactive map from the Damage Assessment and restoration Tracking System (DARTS) here. A copy of the budget justifications can be found here.