Proposed Settlement and Draft Restoration Plan
On September 21, 2016, Governor Bullock, Attorney General Tim Fox, and the U.S. Department of the Interior today announced a proposed settlement with ExxonMobil Pipeline Company to resolve claims stemming from the Yellowstone River July 1, 2011 Yellowstone River Oil Spill. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company has agreed to pay $12 million in natural resource damages, to the federal government and the State of Montana as Trustees for the natural resources injured by the spill. A proposed consent decree was filed in federal court today. The State and federal government have also issued a draft restoration plan which sets forth proposed actions that would address the natural resource injuries
A proposed consent decree was filed in federal court. The State and federal government have also issued a draft restoration plan which sets forth proposed actions that would address the natural resource injuries. The draft restoration plan is available on line at the link provided below, and by request at the address below. The State and federal government are seeking public comment on both the proposed consent decree and the draft restoration plan.
There will be a 30-day public comment period for the draft restoration plan through 5:00 p.m. October 31, 2016. Written comments on the draft restoration plan should be sent via e-mail to: NRDP@mt.gov with “Yellowstone restoration plan comment” in the subject line.
Or by U.S. mail to:
Natural Resource Damage Program
PO Box 201425
Helena, MT 59620-1425
The Trustees will host a public meeting to summarize key components of the restoration plan and receive oral comment. The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 12, at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks conference room at 2300 Lake Elmo Drive in Billings, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The Trustees will review and consider comments received during the public comment period when preparing the final restoration plan.
Today’s proposed settlement, lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, is subject to a 30-day public comment period, ending October 28, 2016, and final approval by the court. To view the consent decree or to submit a comment, visit the department’s website: www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
HISTORY OF THE SPILL
On July 1, 2011, a 12-inch diameter pipeline (Silvertip Pipeline) owned by ExxonMobil Pipeline Company ruptured near Laurel, Montana, resulting in the discharge of crude oil into the Yellowstone River and floodplain. The discharge is estimated to have been approximately 63,000 gallons (about 1,500 barrels) of oil. The discharge occurred during a high-flow event, affecting approximately 85 river miles and associated floodplain. Oil from the spill, along with the cleanup activities, harmed natural resources including fish and other aquatic organisms, birds (including migratory birds), wildlife, large woody debris piles, aquatic habitat, terrestrial habitat, recreational use, and the services provided by these natural resources. These public natural resources are under the Trusteeship of the State of Montana and the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Oil Pollution Act and other laws.
THE OIL POLLUTION ACT AND NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGE ASSESSMENT AND RESTORATION
The primary goal of the Oil Pollution Act is to make the environment and public whole for injuries to natural resources and services resulting from a discharge of oil or other hazardous substances to the environment.
In the restoration plan, the Trustees have presented their evaluation of injuries to the natural resources, restoration alternatives, and projects that benefit the same or similar resources injured by the oil spill.
INJURED RESOURCES AND RESTORATION ALTERNATIVES
Oil from the spill, along with spill response and cleanup activities, harmed fish, wildlife and their habitats and other natural resources in and around the Yellowstone River. The spill also impacted the recreational use of the river and public sites along the river. Injuries included:
The Trustees evaluated a range of restoration alternatives that would provide resource services to compensate the public for losses pending natural recovery of resources injured by the oil spill. The Trustees have identified preferred restoration alternatives designed to address the resource injuries. The Trustees plan to work with project partners such as local, state, and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations and landowners to implement the projects.
Project types include:
LINKS AND DOCUMENTS