Rapid response and immediate and decisive action are critical to oil spill removal or containment, just as with response to a natural disaster such as fire, cyclone or earthquake. In any of these circumstances responders must take immediate action based on very limited information, attacking the problem quickly if there is to be any realistic chance of mitigating the worst harm. Limited immunity for fire fighters has long been recognized because of these circumstances, and this bill extends similar protection to oil spill responders. Without similar immunity, the enormous financial risks and liability exposures associated with oil spill response will deter those persons who are not responsible for the initial spill, such as cleanup contractors, fishermen and barge owners from prompt aggressive cleanup, or from any response at all. The liability for damages resulting from the oil spill cleanup efforts falls on the party responsible for the discharge, not on the persons trying to help clean up or mitigate the damage.History: 1993, PL 23-7.