Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)
Help Clean The
River and Bay!
--- If you have a proposed project for funding under the Restoration
Plan, visit the Wisconsin DNR website
to learn how to submit a proposal to the Trustee Council.
Unfortunately, the State of Wisconsin, under the leadership of Governors Thompson and McCallum, rabidly opposed the concept of compensation. Their DNR argued that ALL of the money is needed for sediment cleanup, and that compensation is not important. Governor Doyle appears to be continuing the Thompson/McCallum approach with no changes in DNR staff or attitudes.
Because of this basic philosophical difference, the state lobbied aggressively against the NRDA, and in 1997 (with the support of then-Attorney General Jim Doyle) signed a surprise contract with the 7 paper companies (with no prior public awareness or input) to have the companies pick consultants to write a state/company version of an NRDA in direct competition with the federal-led NRDA.
Not surprisingly, the resulting state/company plan grossly
undervalued the publicís economic losses and undercut the federal-led NRDA.
The state was not willing to fight for justice in the publicís interest.
In July of 2002, the same deal resurfaced as a so-called $16.1 settlement with Georgia-Pacific (actually worth only $10.86 million), and all the Intergovernmental Partners (federal, state, and tribal) signed on. (See old Action Alert) Clean Water Action Council attempted to intervene in this settlement in federal court. (See Citizens Go to Court to Increase Proposed G-P Settlement) Unfortunately, the judge ruled against formal citizen intervention, but allowed Clean Water Action Council to file an Amicus Brief challenging the settlement. The judge has not yet rule on whether he will accept the settlement.
The federal Dept. of Justice acknowledged, as part of their legal argument against our intervention case, that the federal government was forced to settle for less, because the state NRDA undercut their assessment, leaving the federal government less able to defend their damage claim in court. Just as we predicted. The state is working against the public's interest.
Even worse, following George W. Bush's assumption of the U.S. Presidency, and his appointment of Gale Norton as Interior Secretary (overseeing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) and John Ashcroft as Attorney General (overseeing the U.S. Dept. of Justice), we've seen a significant shift in federal policy. (See Corporate Takeover)
In the summer of 2001, the Intergovernmental Partners proposed and approved another surprise deal: a $40 million "downpayment" from Appleton Paper Company and NCR Corporation over a 4 year period. In exchange, the governments would agree not to sue for more and the NRDA process would be suspended during that time frame. All these settlements represent major departures from promised policies by the federal government. Settlements were not supposed to be finalized until after the final Restoration Plan was issued by the co-trustees, and the Record of Decision was finalized by EPA for the parallel sediment cleanup plan, but this principle was abandoned by the Bush Administration.
Now that the final Record of Decision has been announced (summer of 2003), additional settlements can occur, but the agencies appear to have put river restoration and habitat on the back burner. The assertive federal push for compensation and restoration seems to have evaporated under the Bush Administration.
Links to Government Information:
Restoration Program --- main agency NRDA website
The following are the Service's reports (which cost at least $10 million
to research and write), with the "RCDP" being the final plan which went
to public hearings in November 2000. They are large pdf files which
require Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available for free downloading.
it will take a while for slower modems to download
these reports, and they do use quite a bit of memory. For more
information, call the Service's new local project manager for the Fox River
and Green Bay NRDA, Collette Charbonneau, at 920-866-1726.
|CONTENT BY: Rebecca
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