When enacting the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Congress was clear that a portion of natural resource damages (NRD) assessments was intended to be completed under “standard procedures for simplified assessments requiring minimal field observation . . . .” See 42 U.S.C. § 9651(f)(2)(c). The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) attempted to implement this all-but-forgotten provision of CERCLA by passing regulations for “Type A” standardized assessments. But the promulgated Type A procedures apply to only a very narrow subset of NRD cases and are rarely, if ever, used. Use of the alternative “Type B” procedures—requiring expensive, site-specific data collection and precise, time-consuming fidelity to linear regulatory procedures—has become the norm. The almost-exclusive use of “Type B” procedures, is, however, extraordinarily inefficient, violates congressional intent, and, perhaps most importantly, delays restoration of the environment.
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