Five years after the BP oil spill, the National Contingency Plan used by federal agencies to respond to major environmental threats still needs to be revamped to adjust to the lessons from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster, said Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist who ran the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the spill.

The response strategy, which guides how the government and the companies responsible for a disaster must respond, was conceived after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

That's a key part of the problem, Lubchenco said. When federal officials used the strategy to respond to the BP spill, they found it was an outdated outline created to fight a limited source of oil, rather than the seemingly never-ending flow of oil from the Macondo well.

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