Oil injures fish and wildlife, and may smother or destroy sensitive habitats, altering migration patterns and negatively affecting life cycles. Oil spills can also lead to beach closures and restrictions on local fisheries, severely impacting local economies.
Oil spills—ranging from just a few gallons to millions of barrels—occur in the U.S. all too often. In fact, NOAA responds to as many as 150 oil spills each year. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a recent example of the extensive environmental and economic damage an oil spill can cause.