Natural Resource Damage Claims Gao ID: T-RCED-95-182 May 11, 1995

This testimony focuses on settlements for damages to natural resources under the Superfund statute. Concerns have arisen that monetary damages for natural resources, such as wetlands and wildlife habitat, caused by releases of hazardous substances could add billions to the cost of Superfund cleanups and impose heavy burdens on industry and the federal budget. To date, natural resource damage settlements have been relatively low--accounting for a small percentage of what responsible parties have agreed to pay for Superfund cleanups. However, federal and state officials have alerted GAO to three future settlements that could involve hundreds of millions of dollars. They have also said that there may be other instances in which claims will exceed $50 million per geographic area. Further, the federal government faces the potential for large amounts in damages at some of its most contaminated facilities.

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