The short-term ecological impact of the BP spill is obvious—the pelicans covered in oil, the balls of crude washing up on Florida beaches, the dead sea life. But even though it could take decades, experts say that the Gulf’s ecosystem could ultimately recover because of its uniquely suited climate. Volatile compounds can evaporate, others are broken down by the sun, some dissolve in water, and microbes can consume what are known as "straight chain" hydrocarbons. Still, the Prince William Sound’s wildlife has not recovered 21 years after the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude. The Gulf of Mexico will likely take longer. And by then, BP may no longer be in business in the United States. Legislators are examining the possibility of debarring the company, meaning government clients could not award it new fuel supply contracts and it would be denied new oil drilling leases.