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The unprecedented use of dispersants in response to the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and subsequent explosion revealed the weaknesses of the current U.S. oil spill emergency response apparatus. The dearth of information regarding dispersant toxicity and effectiveness at various depths highlights the need to revisit the current procedures within the National Contingency Plan for responding to oil spill emergencies. In assessing various options, the experience of pesticide regulation is informative—a front-end regulatory framework like that employed in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act could address many of the shortcomings of federal emergency spill response. Such a regulatory approach would ensure that information about dispersants is made available before their listing on the National Contingency Plan, rather than after their ultimate application. Given the risk for harm to human health and the environment from oil spills and subsequent dispersant application, such an approach is necessary.