Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress [October 25, 2006]   [open pdf - 193KB]

"During the past two decades, while U.S. oil imports and consumption have steadily risen, oil spill incidents and the volume of oil spilled have not followed a similar course. In general, the annual number and volume of oil spills have shown declines - in some cases, dramatic declines. Considering that U.S. oil consumption and oil imports have steadily increased, the trend of declining spill incidents and volume in past years is noteworthy. Yet, recent annual data indicate that the overall decline of annual spill events may have stopped. Both consumption and imports are projected to maintain upward movement, and the United States is expected to increase the proportion of its imported oil. More oil-carrying vessels will be entering U.S. waters, and a higher percentage of transported oil will likely travel by vessel. The threat of oil spills may increase if more oil is being transported into and around the nation. This increased threat raises the question of whether U.S. officials have the necessary resources at hand to respond to a major spill. There is some concern that the favorable U.S. spill record has resulted in a loss of experienced personnel, capable of responding quickly and effectively to a major oil spill. Moreover, the level of funding required to respond to such a spill, particularly its aftermath, may be currently inadequate, according to U.S. Coast Guard reports."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33705
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