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Oil Pollution Act Update


May 29, 2014

An ELI Research Seminar

In 1990, following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, President George H.W. Bush signed the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) into law to strengthen the federal government’s ability to prevent and respond to oil spills, establish financial resources to aid response, and raise standards for contingency planning.

In 2010, in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order to establish the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. This bipartisan presidential commission “tasked with providing recommendations on how the United States can prevent and mitigate the impact of any future spills that result from offshore drilling.” Three years after the Commission’s 2011 report, much has happened in the area of oil pollution law, though only one aspect of OPA has been amended.

Our expert panel brought the audience up to speed on developments in oil pollution law and discussed related issues such as:

  • developments in the Houston Ship Channel oil spill,
  • the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the pending civil penalty action,
  • other recent OPA litigation and decisions,
  • the oil transport disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec,
  • developments in Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment, and
  • the status of claims made under the BP compensation Fund.

Russell V. Randle, Partner, Patton Boggs LLP (moderator)
William D. Brighton, Assistant Chief, Environmental Enforcement Section, Environment & Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice
William T. Hassler, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson
Randall B. Luthi, President, National Ocean Industries Association
Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director, Gulf Restoration Network

Oil Pollution Deskbook, 2nd ed. (2012)
ELI Ocean Program's Gulf of Mexico Restoration and Recovery website provides a wealth of free information about the ongoing recovery efforts in the region. The site contains searchable databases, downloadable research reports, and more.

If you are an ELI member and are logged onto the Members site, you will see a link to the combined presentation below. If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like these, see the bottom of this page for a link on how to join.