Laws & Regulations

Summary of the Oil Pollution Act

33 U.S.C. §2701 et seq. (1990)

The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 streamlined and strengthened EPA's ability to prevent and respond to catastrophic oil spills. A trust fund financed by a tax on oil is available to clean up spills when the responsible party is incapable or unwilling to do so. The OPA requires oil storage facilities and vessels to submit to the Federal government plans detailing how they will respond to large discharges. EPA has published regulations for aboveground storage facilities; the Coast Guard has done so for oil tankers. The OPA also requires the development of Area Contingency Plans to prepare and plan for oil spill response on a regional scale.

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The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) works with other federal partners to prevent accidents as well as to maintain superior response capabilities.