Oil Pollution Act

In 1990 the Oil Pollution Act was approved by the Federal government. The development of oil had continued to increase up to that point. With so many people around the world being dependent on that oil we didn’t seem to care so much about the possibilities of pollution from it. When spills did occur it was often not widely reported and on a small scale.

Oil Pollution Act: Oil Spill Problem

Yet that all changed with the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The abundance of coverage about the issue demanded that the government take action. The volume of water that was polluted, the marine life that was killed, and the number of animals that were part of rescue efforts were huge. In fact, the experts believe that the damages were underestimated because at the time no one knew what the long term effects of the oil spill were going to be.

Under the Oil Pollution Act the Federal government has the responsibility, ability, and the resources to act to help with oil spill problems. There is up to $1 billion that can be allocated for all the efforts to clean up for any oil spill through the National Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Yet the Oil Pollution Act doesn’t mean that the responsibility for clean up and the cost all falls on the Federal government. There are contingencies in place with all of the industry providers and carriers in place. Should there be any oil spill the Federal government will immediately respond. Early aid with efforts to clean up can limit the amount of pollution damage that occurs.

At the same time the owners and operators of any vessel involved with an oil spill has to have an approved plan of action in place as well. They have to do all they can to help resolve the situation as well. They will also be responsible for the major part of the cost of the clean up efforts from the oil spill.

There are very large financial penalties under the Oil Pollution Act for non compliance with the laws. This means any vessel that is deemed to have been negligent in taking all precautions against oil spills will be under fire. The Federal government has the authority to establish those laws, to oversee them, and to also investigate any oil spill to find out what the cause of it happened to be.

Yet many consumers aren’t happy with the Oil Pollution Act and what it entails. They feel that even though the responsible parties for such spills have to pay for them, how do they do so? They feel that they have to pay an increased rate for the fuel that they consume and that is how the cost of cleaning up is paid for.

This angers them because they feel they already pay a high enough amount for fuel. The dependency on foreign oil continues to be a topic of heated debate around the USA. Consumers also feel that they pay in taxes annually for the Federal government to have more say so in how funding will be allocated for clean up efforts.

While there are still some flaws and loopholes with the Oil Pollution Act, it has definitely helped to make sure that vessels involved with the oil industry are better maintained and operated. The idea is that many of the oil spills out there could have been prevented if those measures were taken earlier.

The widespread media attention and internet coverage of oil spills today has also been a deterrent. Companies don’t want to have a tarnished reputation for being responsible for adding to the oil pollution problem.

Oil Pollution Act.