"Thousands of oil and chemical spills of varying size occur in the United States each year. State and local officials located in proximity to these incidents generally are the first responders and may elevate an incident for federal attention if greater resources are desired. The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, often referred to as the National Contingency Plan (NCP), establishes the procedures for the federal response to oil and chemical spills. The scope of the NCP encompasses discharges of oil into or upon U.S. waters and adjoining shorelines and releases of hazardous substances into the environment. Several hundred toxic chemicals and radionuclides are designated as hazardous substances under the NCP, and other pollutants and contaminants also may fall within the scope of its response authorities. Unlike most federal emergency response plans that are administrative mechanisms, the NCP is codified in federal regulation and is binding and enforceable. The NCP was developed in 1968 and has been revised on multiple occasions to implement the federal statutory response authorities that Congress has expanded over time. […] This report discusses the statutory authorities of the NCP and relevant executive orders; outlines the federal emergency response framework of the NCP to coordinate federal, state, and local roles; and identifies the funding mechanisms to carry out a federal response to a discharge of oil or a release of a hazardous substance."
CRS Report for Congress, R43251