Just curious because I know we are thinking about new legislation to protect against the new oil spill happening again.
It was defeinitely noticed after the Exxon Valdez that our ability to respond to an oil spill was limited. There were several laws passed after, though I hope they will be reconsidered now to improve upon them. Some laws were specific to the Prince William Sound area. Tankers are now tracked by the Coast Guard via satellite and accompanied by two escort ships when in the Sound area. Special pilots are used to navigate ships through Bligh Reef and dispersants, boom and barges are on hand in case of an emergency. Also, all tankers will be required to have a double hull in the Sound by 2015.
It was considered a breakthrough in spill response and recovery when the 1990 Oil Pollution Control Act was passed, allowing NOAA to assess damage and require compensation from those responsible for US spills. This law set the now familiar $75 million cap for liability of offending companies. Current debate revolves around how much to raise this 20-year-old dollar amount to. There were many valuable lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez spill that did improve our ability to assess and respond to oil spills, but unfortunately there were not laws enacted that were focused on prevention of such destructive spills. Hopefully the Gulf Oil disaster will change that.
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