What sounded like a warning really was just a reminder: If another oil spill the size of the March 1989 Exxon Valdez mess occurs anytime soon off the U.S., the oil industry won't be able to handle it. The reminder came at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston last week. Government officials and private spill cleanup specialists agreed that if Exxon Valdez happened again, the response wouldn't be much better now than it was 2 years ago. To be sure, spill response capability is improving. The problem is that the improvements take time. "We have a window of exposure," said Garry Mauro, commissioner of the Texas general land office. "The...

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