Environmental Laws and Oil Spills
- Funding the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. While the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund was actually established in 1986, three years before the Valdez accident, it was not funded prior to the Valdez tragedy. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 allowed the funds in the trust fund to be raised to $2.7 billion dollars. The amount that can be used on any one accident is currently $1 billion.
- Required Companies to Create Spill Scenario Plans Before Drilling for Oil. These plans must be created for the worst case scenario and include specific training of the people responsible for implementing the plan and testing of the equipment that would be used. The plans must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agenc, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
- New Tankers Must be Built With Double Hulls. This provides an extra layer of protection in a crash. Single hull tankers are scheduled to be phased out by 2010.
- Responsibility for the Oil Spiller was Extended. The responsibility now includes all costs incurred not only by the federal government but also by local and state governments that incur cleanup costs related to the spill.
- Federal Trustees are Charged with Assessing Damages to Natural Resources. This includes not only water but also wildlife and other natural resources.
- Formulation of Area Contingency Plans. This is required only for certain high risk areas.
- Enhanced Penalties for Oil Spillers. Penalties are designed not only to punish the company responsible for the spill but also to deter others from risky behavior that could result in a dangerous and disruptive oil spill that harms the environment and the economic interests of many people and businesses.