EPA Oil Spill Program Overview
Welcome to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Oil Spill Program. This website provides information about the U.S. EPA’s program for preventing, preparing for, and responding to oil spills that occur in and around inland waters of the United States.
As a major industrial nation, the United States produces, distributes, and consumes large quantities of oil. Petroleum-based oil is used as a major power source to fuel our factories and various modes of transportation, and in many everday products, such as plastics, nylon, paints, tires, cosmetics, and detergents. On average, the U.S. uses over 250 billion gallons of oil and petroleum products each year. To meet this demand, each year the U.S. produces an average of 125 billion gallons of crude oil and imports an average of 114 billion gallons of crude oil and other petroleum products. At every point in the oil production, distribution, and consumption process, oil is invariably stored in storage tanks. With billions of gallons of oil being stored throughout the country, the potential for an oil spill is significant, and the effects of spilled oil can pose serious threats to the environment.
In addition to petroleum-based oil, the U.S. consumes millions of gallons of non-petroleum oils, such as silicone and mineral-based oils, and animal and vegetable oils. Like petroleum products, these non-petroleum oils are often stored in storage tanks that have the potential to spill, causing environmental damages that are just as serious as those caused by petroleum-based oils.
To address the potential environmental threat posed by petroleum and non-petroleum oils, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a program designed to prevent oil spills. The program has reduced the number of spills from the total volume handled each year. The program is also designed to prepare for and respond to any oil spill affecting the inland waters of the United States. EPA’s oil program has a long history of responding to oil spills, including several major oil spills, and the lessons learned have helped to improve our country’s prevention and response capabilities. The Oil Spill Program is administered through EPA headquarters and the 10 EPA Regions.
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This page last updated on March 7, 2001