C: STATE AND FEDERAL AUTHORITIES APPLICABLE TO THE
MONTEREY BAY AREA
Section III: Federal Authorities
III. Federal Authorities
Like State authorities, Federal programs vary greatly in approach and scope, ranging from fairly broad-based legislation for resource conservation and environmental protection (e.g., The National Environmental Policy Act and Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act) to regulation of specific activities and resources.
The MFCMA provides for the conservation and management of all fishery resources between 3 and 200 nm (5.6 and 370 km) offshore. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), NOAA, Department of Commerce is charged with establishing guidelines for and approving fishery management plans (FMPs) prepared by regional fishery management councils for selected fisheries. These plans determine the levels of commercial and sport fishing consistent with achieving and maintaining the optimum yield of each fishery. The waters of the study area are within the jurisdiction of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC).
In addition to non-benthic fishery resources located outside state waters, benthic continental shelf fishery resources located outside state waters, such as abalone, lobster, crabs, sea urchins, and corals, are also subject to management under the MFCMA. Within Federal waters the MFCMA is enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and NMFS. The Act empowers the Secretary of Commerce to enter into agreements with any State agency for enforcement purposes in State waters. Such an agreement exists between the CDFG and NMFS whereby both parties have been deputized to enforce each other's laws. As a result, PFMC fishery plan enforcement personnel can now enforce State law within 3 nm (5.6 km) and State officers can enforce Federal laws between 3 and 200 nm (5.6 and 370 km).
The Federal Endangered Species program provides protection for listed species of animals and plants in both State waters and the waters beyond. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and NMFS determine which species need protection and maintain a list of endangered and threatened species. One of the most significant protections provided by the Endangered Species Act is the prohibition on taking. The term "take" is defined broadly to mean "harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct" (16 USC §1532(19)). The FWS regulations define the term "harm" to mean an act which actually kills or injures wildlife, including significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding or sheltering. The regulations define the term "harass" to mean "an intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding or sheltering" (50 CFR 17.3).
The Endangered Species Act also provides for the indirect protection of endangered species and their habitats by establishing a consultation process designed to insure that projects authorized, funded or carried out by Federal agencies are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered or threatened species, or "result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat of such species which is determined ... to be critical" (16 USC §1536). Critical habitat areas for endangered species are designated by the FWS and NMFS. The 1978 amendments to the Act establish a Cabinet level committee authorized to exempt Federal agencies (through an elaborate review process) from compliance with their responsibilities with regard to the jeopardy standard and critical habitat.
Several species of marine mammals found in the study area are listed as endangered or threatened species. These include: 1) sea otter, 2) grey whale, 3) fin whale, and 4) humpback whale. The blue whale, sei whale, and sperm whale, which have occasionally been sighted in the study area are also listed as endangered or threatened species.
Species of birds listed as endangered or threatened found in the study area include: 1) California brown pelican, 2) California clapper rail, 3) California least tern, 4) Southern bald eagle, and 5) American peregrine falcon, and 6) short tailed albatross.
The MMPA provides protection to marine mammals in both State waters and the waters beyond. It is designed to protect all species of marine mammals. While MMPA allows states to petition for the return of management responsibility over harvest of marine mammals, California has done so only with regard to the sea otter and that petition was later withdrawn.
As specified in the MMPA, the Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is responsible for the management of polar bears, walrus (a pinniped), northern and southern sea otters, three species of manatees, and dugong; and Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), is responsible for all other marine mammals. The Marine Mammal Commission advises these implementing agencies and sponsors relevant scientific research. The primary management features of the Act include: 1) a moratorium on "taking" of marine mammals; 2) the development of a management approach designed to achieve an "optimum sustainable population" (OSP) for all species or population stocks of marine mammals; and 3) protection of populations determined to be "depleted".
MMPA defines "take" broadly to include "harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal" (16 USC §1362(12)). The term "harass" has been interpreted to encompass acts unintentionally adversely affecting marine mammals, such as operation of motor boats in waters in which these animals are found. The MMPA allows certain exceptions to the moratorium. First, the Secretary may issue permits for public display or scientific research. Second, the Secretary may grant exemptions for takes of small numbers of marine mammals incidental to other lawful activities. Third, the Secretary may make a special waiver of the moratorium on taking for particular species or populations of marine mammals provided that the species or population being considered is at or above its determined optimum sustainable population. No such waiver, however, has been granted concerning any marine mammal found in the area under consideration.
Marine mammal species whose population is determined to be depleted receive additional protection. Under only limited circumstances may permits be issued for the taking of any marine mammal determined to be depleted, including but not limited to scientific research and enhancing the survival or recovery of a species or stock of depleted species. Four species of marine mammals sighted within the study area (the fin whale, the southern population of sea otter, the humpback whale, and the grey whale), and three species or populations which are possible transients (the blue whale, the sperm whale, and the sei whale), are treated as "depleted" based on their listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The 1988 amendments to the MMPA added requirements that observers be carried aboard commercial fishing vessels to determine levels of incidental take of marine mammals. Commercial fishing activities are divided into categories on the basis of gear-type and associated levels of potential incidental take of marine mammals. For example, Category 1 vessels such as gillnetters may have to carry an observer if requested by NMFS and the Secretary of Commerce may place observers on vessels in Categories 2 and 3 with the consent of the vessel owner. This observer program has been in operation since early 1990 and although the authority for its management is with the NMFS the day-to-day operational management may be delegated to state and local authorities.
The essential provision of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which implements conventions with Great Britain, Mexico, the USSR and Japan makes it unlawful except as permitted by regulations "to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill... any migratory bird, any part, nest or egg" or any product of any such bird protected by the Convention (16 USC §703). The Secretary of the Interior is charged with determining when, and to what extent, if at all, and by what means to permit these activities. Each treaty establishes a "closed season" during which no hunting is permitted. A distinction is made between game and nongame birds. The closed season for migratory birds other than game birds is year-round. Of the birds found in the study area only certain species of ducks, geese, coots, gallinules and doves are considered game birds. As specifically permitted by the Act the California Department of Fish and Game has supplemented this authority with its own regulations (see Fish and Game Code Discussion, above).
It is the goal of the CWA to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters. To varying degrees, navigable waters of the United States, the contiguous zone, and the oceans beyond are subject to requirements of the CWA.
The CWA's chief mechanism for preventing and reducing water pollution is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the NPDES program, a permit is required for the discharge of any pollutant from a point source into the navigable waters of the United States, the waters of the contiguous zone, or ocean waters. Within California state waters, EPA has delegated NPDES permitting authority to the state government.
Since oil and gas development pursuant to Federal lease sales occur beyond State waters, an NPDES permit from EPA is required for discharges associated with this activity. EPA generally grants NPDES permits for offshore oil and gas developments based on published effluent guidelines (40 CFR Part 435). Other conditions beyond these guidelines may, however, be imposed by the Regional Administrator on a case-by-case basis.
The CWA prohibits the discharge of oil or hazardous substances in quantities that may be harmful to the public health or welfare or the environment, including but not limited to fish, shellfish, wildlife, and public and private property, shorelines and beaches into or upon the navigable waters of the U.S., adjoining shorelines, or into or upon the waters of the contiguous zone, or in connection with activities under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act or the Deepwater Port Act of 1974, or which may affect natural resources belonging to, appertaining to, or under the exclusive management authority of the U.S., except, in the case of such discharges into or upon the waters of the contiguous zone or which may affect the above- mentioned natural resources, where permitted under the Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
When harmful discharges do take place, the National Contingency Plan (NCP) for the removal of oil and hazardous substance discharges (40 CFR Part 300), which is designed to minimize the impacts on marine resources, takes effect. The USCG, in cooperation with EPA, administers the NCP. The NCP establishes the organizational framework whereby oil and hazardous substance spills are to be cleaned up. To carry out the NCP, regional plans have been established; the USCG has issued such a plan for Federal Region IX which encompasses the study area. Under the plan, Coast Guard personnel are to investigate all reported offshore spills, notify the party responsible (if known) of its obligation to clean up the spill, and supervise the clean-up operation. The Coast Guard retains final authority over the procedures and equipment used in the cleanup. If the party responsible for the spill does not promptly begin cleanup operations, the Coast Guard may hire private organizations.
The CWA also requires that publicly owned sewage treatment works meet effluent limitations based on effluent reductions attainable through the application of secondary treatment by July 1, 1977 [33 USC §1311(b)(1)]. EPA does have the authority, however, to waive the July 1, 1977 deadline for secondary treatment for discharges into marine waters under certain circumstances (33 USC §1311(h)). Due to the unusual depth of marine waters off the California coast, some municipal sewage treatment works in California discharging into marine waters have requested waivers from secondary treatment requirements (43 F.R. 17484 (4/25/78)). Several communities are currently discharging wastes into marine waters in the study area (see Part II, Section 2).
Permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, (COE) which are based on EPA guidelines, are required prior to the discharge of dredged or fill materials into navigable waters that lie inside the baseline from which the territorial sea (defined to be three nautical miles of shore) is measured and fill materials into the territorial sea (33 USC § 1344; 40 CFR 230.2).
Finally, the CWA requires vessels to comply with marine sanitation regulations issued by EPA and enforced by the USCG (33 USC § 1322).
Section 10 (33 USC 403) prohibits the unauthorized obstruction of navigable waters of the United States. The construction of any structure or any excavation or fill activity in the navigable waters of the U.S. is prohibited without a permit from the COE. Section 13 (33 U.S.C. 407) prohibits the discharge of refuse into navigable waters of the U.S., but has been largely superseded by the CWA, discussed above.
The Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA), as amended by the Port and Tanker Safety Act of 1978 ( and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990), is designed to promote navigation and vessel safety and the protection of the marine environment. The PWSA applies both in state waters and the waters beyond out to 200 nautical miles.
The PWSA authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard to construct, operate, maintain, improve or expand vessel traffic services and control vessel traffic in ports, harbors, and other waters subject to congested vessel traffic. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 amends the PWSA to mandate that the USCG "require appropriate vessels which operate in the area of a vessel traffic service to utilize or comply with that service."
The absence of a major harbor in Monterey Bay and the resulting relatively low level of vessel traffic into and out of the Bay has precluded the need for a vessel traffic separation scheme (VTSS) or other formal regulatory mechanisms for ensuring vessel safety.
The U.S. Coast Guard provides two sets of customary vessel traffic lanes on navigational charts for vessels traversing the West coast. One set of customary traffic lanes is an extension of the Southern VTSS for San Francisco Bay and is intended for vessels traveling north and southbound along the coast. The other is intended primarily for east-bound traffic heading to and from ports further south in California. Adherence to these lanes is strictly voluntary. The lanes merely serve as navigational aids, indicating to mariners who are unfamiliar with the area that vessel traffic historically has followed those patterns, and that the lanes have been found to be safe.
In addition to vessel traffic control, the U.S. Coast Guard regulates other navigational and shipping activities. It has promulgated numerous regulations relating to vessel design, construction, and operation designed to minimize the likelihood of an accident and reduce vessel source pollution.
The 1978 amendments of the PWSA establish a comprehensive program for regulating the design, construction, operation, equipping, and banning of all tankers using U.S. ports to transfer oil and hazardous materials. These requirements are, for the most part, in agreement with protocols (passed in 1978) to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, and the International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea, 1974.
The U.S. Coast Guard is also vested with the primary responsibility for maintaining boater safety, including the tasks of conducting routine vessel inspections and coordinating rescue operations.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1954, and the Oil Pollution Act of 1961 have been superseded by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the 1978 Protocol relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78) and implemented by the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, 1980, as amended in 1982, 1987 (APPS). APPS, in implementing Annex I of MARPOL 73/78, regulates the discharge of oil and oily mixtures from seagoing ships, including oil tankers. APPS, in implementing Annex II of MARPOL 73/78, regulates the discharge of noxious liquid substances from seagoing ships. Enforcement of the Act is the responsibility of the USCG.
When more than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land, any discharge of oil or oily mixtures into the sea from a ship subject to APPS other than an oil tanker or from machinery space bilges of an oil tanker subject to APPS is prohibited except when: 1) the oil or oily mixture does not originate from cargo pump room bilges; 2) the oil or oily mixture is not mixed with oil cargo residues; 3) the ship is not within a Special Area (the study area is not a Special Area for purposes of APPS); 4) the ship is proceeding en route; 5) the oil content of the effluent without dilution is less than 100 parts per million (ppm); and 6) the ship has in operation oily-water separating equipment, a bilge monitor, bilge alarm or combination thereof. 33 CFR 151.10(a).
The restrictions on discharges 12 nautical miles or less from the nearest land are more stringent. When within 12 nautical miles of the nearest land, any discharge of oil or oily mixtures into the sea from a ship other than an oil tanker or from machinery space bilges of an oil tanker is prohibited except when: 1) the oil or oily mixture does not originate from cargo pump room bilges; 2) the oil or oily mixture is not mixed with oil cargo residues; 3) the oil content of the effluent without dilution does not exceed 15 ppm; 4) the ship has in operation oily-water separating equipment, a bilge monitor, bilge alarm, or combination thereof; and 5) the oily-water separating equipment is equipped with a 15 ppm bilge alarm. NOTE: In the navigable waters of the U.S., the CWA, section 311(b)(3) and 40 CFR 110 govern all discharges of oil and oily mixtures. 33 CFR 151.10(b).
A tank vessel subject to APPS may not discharge an oily mixture into the sea from a cargo tank, slop tank or cargo pump bilge unless the vessel: 1) is more than 50 nautical miles from the nearest land; 2) is proceeding en route; 3) is discharging at an instantaneous rate of oil content not exceeding 60 liters per nautical mile; 4) is an existing vessel and the total quantity of oil discharged into the sea does not exceed 1/15000 of the total quantity of the cargo that the discharge formed a part (1/30000 for new vessels); 5) discharges, with certain exceptions, through the above waterline discharge point; 6) has in operation a cargo monitor and control system that is designed for use with the oily mixture being discharged; and 7) is outside the Special Areas. 33 CFR 157.37.
APPS is amended by the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act of 1987 (MPPRCA), which implements Annex V of MARPOL 73/78 in the U.S. The MPPRCA and implementing regulations at 33 CFR 151.51 to 151.77 apply to U.S. Ships (except warships and ships owned or operated by the U.S.) everywhere, including recreational vessels, and to other ships subject to MARPOL 73/78 while in the navigable waters or the Exclusive Economic Zone of the U.S. They prohibit the discharge of plastic or garbage mixed with plastic into any waters and the discharge of dunnage, lining and packing materials that float within 25 nautical miles of the nearest land. Other unground garbage may be discharged beyond 12 nautical miles from the nearest land. Other garbage ground to less than one inch may be discharged beyond three nautical miles of the nearest land. Fixed and floating platforms and associated vessels are subject to more stringent restrictions. "Garbage" is defined as all kinds of victual, domestic and operational waste, excluding fresh fish and parts thereof, generated during the normal operations of the ship and liable to be disposed of continuously or periodically except dishwater, graywater and certain substances. 33 CFR 151.05.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) creates a comprehensive prevention, response, liability, and compensation regime for dealing with vessel and facility-caused oil pollution. The OPA provides for environmental safeguards in oil transportation greater than those existing before its passage by: setting new standards for vessel construction, crew licensing, and manning; providing for better contingency planning; enhancing Federal response capability; broadening enforcement authority; increasing penalties; and authorizing multi-agency research and development. A one billion dollar trust fund is available to cover clean-up costs and damages not compensated by the spiller.
Title I creates a liability and compensation regime for vessel and facility-source oil pollution. Any party responsible for the discharge, or the substantial threat of discharge, of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines or the Exclusive Economic Zone is liable for the removal costs and damages, including assessment costs; for injury, destruction, loss or loss of use of natural resources, injury to, or economic losses resulting from destruction of real or personal property; subsistence use of natural resources, net lost government revenues, lost profits or impairment of earning capacity; and net costs of providing increased or additional public services during or after removal activities. NOAA has the responsibility of promulgating damage assessment regulations and following the regulations will create a rebuttable presumption in favor of a given assessment. Sums recovered by a trustee for natural resource damages will be retained in a revolving trust account to reimburse or pay costs incurred by the trustee with respect to those resources.
Title II makes numerous amendments to conform other Federal statutes, particularly section 311 of the Clean Water Act, to the provisions of the Oil Pollution Act.
Title III encourages the establishment of an international inventory of spill removal equipment and personnel.
Title IV is divided into three subtitles: A) Prevention; B) Removal; and C) Penalties and Miscellaneous. Subtitle A gives added responsibility to the Coast Guard regarding merchant marine personnel, including the review of alcohol and drug abuse and review of criminal records prior to issuance and renewal of documentation. It also amends the Ports and Waterways Safety Act to: require the Coast Guard to "require appropriate vessels which operate in an area of a vessel traffic service to utilize or comply with that service." and 2) authorize the construction, improvement and expansion of vessel traffic services.
Further, Subtitle A establishes double hull requirements for tank vessels. Most tank vessels over 5,000 gross tons will be required to have double hulls by 2010, while vessels under 5,000 gross tons will be required to have a double hull or double containment systems by 2015. All newly constructed tankers must contain a double hull (or double containment system if under 5,000 gross tons), while existing vessels are phased out over a period of years.
Subtitle B amends subsection 311(c) of the Clean Water Act, requiring the Federal Government to ensure effective and immediate removal of a discharge, and mitigation or prevention of a substantial threat of a discharge, of oil or a hazardous substance into or on the navigable waters, on the adjoining shorelines, into or on the waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone, or that may affect natural resources belonging to, appertaining to, or under the exclusive management authority of the U.S. It also requires a revision and republication of the National Contingency Plan within one year which will include, among other things, a Fish and Wildlife response plan developed in consultation with NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Nothing in Subtitle B preempts the rights of States to require stricter standards for removal actions.
Subtitle C alters and increases civil and administrative penalties for illegal discharges and violations of regulations promulgated under the Clean Water Act.
Title VII authorizes an oil pollution research and technology development program, including the establishment of an interagency coordinating committee that is chaired by Department Of Transportation and composed of representatives from the Departments of Energy, the Interior, Transportation, Commerce (including NOAA), and Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as such other Federal agencies as the President may designate.
Title IX amends the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and increases from $500 million to $1 billion the amount that can be spent on any single oil spill incident, of which no more than $500 million may be spent on natural resource damage, assessments and claims.
The Federal Aviation Act gives the Secretary of Transportation broad powers to promote air commerce and to regulate the use of navigable airspace to ensure aircraft safety and efficient use of such airspace. In furtherance of this mandate, the Federal Aviation Administration, within the Department of Transportation publishes aeronautical charts which provide a variety of information to pilots, including the location of sensitive areas which should be avoided.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) sets general guidelines and minimal air quality standards on a nationwide basis in order to protect and enhance the quality of the Nation's air resources. States are responsible for developing comprehensive plans for all regions within their boundaries. Thus, as noted above, discharges of air pollutants over California state waters are subject to the control of the California Air Resources Board.
Per the CAA Amendments of 1990, section 328(a)(1) of the CAA provides that the Administrator of the EPA, following consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, "by rule, shall establish requirements to control air pollution from OCS sources located offshore of the States along the Pacific...Coast...to attain and maintain Federal and State ambient air quality standards and to comply with part C of title I....New OCS sources shall comply with such requirements on the date of promulgation."
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, (OCSLA) as amended in 1978 and 1985, establishes Federal jurisdiction over the mineral resources of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) beyond 3 nm (5.6 km) and gives the Secretary of Interior primary responsibility for managing OCS mineral exploration and development. The Secretary's responsibility has been delegated to the Minerals Management Service (MMS).
In unique or special areas, MMS may impose special lease stipulations designed to protect specific geological and biological phenomena. These stipulations may vary among lease sale tracts and sales.
MMS is also charged with supervising OCS operations, including approval of exploration and development and production plans and applications for pipeline rights of way on the OCS. Lessees are required to include, in exploration and development and production plans, specific information concerning emissions and their potential impacts on coastal areas. Such authority includes the enforcement of regulations made pursuant to the OCSLA (30 CFR Parts 250 and 256) and the enforcement of stipulations applicable to particular leases.
In addition to DOI, both the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) have responsibility over OCS mineral development to the extent that such development affects navigation. (43 USC 1333) COE is responsible for ensuring, through a permit system, that OCS structures, including pipelines, platforms, drill ships, and semi-submersibles, do not obstruct navigation. USCG ensures that structures on the OCS are properly marked and that safe working conditions are maintained onboard.
Title I of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), also known as the Ocean Dumping Act, prohibits: 1) any person from transporting, without a permit, from the U.S. any material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters (defined to mean those waters of the open seas lying seaward of the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured) and 2) in the case of a vessel or aircraft registered in the U.S. or flying the U.S. flag or in the case of a U.S. agency, any person from transporting, without a permit, from any location any material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters. Title I also prohibits any person from dumping, without a permit, into the "territorial sea," or the contiguous zone extending 12 nautical miles seaward from the baseline of the territorial sea to the extent that it may affect the territorial sea or the territory of the U.S., any material transported from a location outside of the U.S. EPA regulates, through the issuance of permits, the transportation, for the purpose of dumping, and the dumping of all materials except dredged material; COE, the transportation, for the purpose of dumping, of dredged material. The COE permits are subject to EPA review and approval.. Title I also makes it unlawful after December 31, 1991, for any person to dump into ocean waters, or to transport for the purposes of dumping into ocean waters, sewage sludge or industrial waste.
The National Historic Preservation Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to maintain a National Register of "districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, and culture". Sites have been listed on the National Register which include or are composed entirely of ocean waters and submerged lands within state waters or on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Any federal agency conducting, licensing, or assisting an undertaking which may affect a property listed or eligible for listing on the National Register must prior to the action take into account the effect of the undertaking on the property and provide the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment on the proposed action (16 USC §470f). The basic criterion applied by the Council is whether the undertaking will change the quality of the site's historic, architectural, archeological, or cultural character (36 CFR Part 800).
O. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 USC §§ 9601 et seq.)
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), whose principal purpose is the cleanup of hazardous waste sites, consists of four fundamental elements. First, it creates an information-gathering and evaluation system to help Federal and state governments categorize hazardous waste sites and prioritize responses. Second, CERCLA provides Federal authority to respond to releases of hazardous substances. Response actions are carried out pursuant to the National Contingency Plan (NCP). Third, CERCLA establishes a Hazardous Substance Trust Fund to pay for removal and remedial actions and related costs. Finally, CERCLA makes persons responsible for hazardous substance releases liable for costs of removal or remedial action incurred by the Federal or state government; other necessary costs of response incurred by others; damages for injury, destruction or loss of natural resources; and costs of any health assessment or health effects study carried out pursuant to the Act.