In January 2017, the State of Montana and U.S. Department of the Interior issued the Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the Exxonmobil Pipeline Company July 1, 2011 Yellowstone River Oil Spill. The restoration plan was prepared by the State of Montana through the Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program and the U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The restoration plan describes the natural resource injuries caused by the oil spill and restoration project types to compensate for those injuries.
The State of Montana and the United States entered into a $12 million natural resource damage settlement with Exxonmobil, which was approved by the Court in December. The State of Montana will be implementing almost $9.5 million in restoration projects on the Yellowstone River in the next few years. “The restoration plan includes a range of project types that address specific injuries associated with the oil spill, and in total will make the environment and public whole,” said Alicia Stickney, Natural Resource Damage Program Project Manager. “The plan will guide restoration of the Yellowstone River to improve natural and recreational resources of the river injured due to the spill.”
A public meeting will be held on February 15, 2017, 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, at the Billings Red Lion Convention Center, 1223 Mullowney Lane, to present the final plan and responses to comments from the community, and present more information about plan implementation. The State plans to work with project partners such as local, State, and Federal agencies and nonprofit organizations and landowners to implement the projects.
To assist with the development of recreation projects, the State is forming a locally-based ad-hoc Recreation Advisory Committee to prepare a draft Recreation Project Plan for how approximately $2.3 million will be spent on recreation projects on the Yellowstone River impacted by the spill. The draft Recreation Project Plan will be submitted to the Governor for approval. The Recreation Advisory Committee will solicit projects and input from the community.
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