the stuff in the picture is wool from an English Leicester sheep [Leicester Longwool for UK readers]
despite being long stapled, strong and lustrous [or perhaps for those very reasons] it is worth nothing at the wool auctions in Australia.
it could however be of great value in dealing with the oil spewing up the the Gulf of Mexico
oil loves to adhere to felt and especially to felt made of strong wool [or human hair for that matter]
having a felt barrier on the inside of those floating walls they're putting about would be a way of collecting oil. my imagination hasn't run to how it might be dealt with after that [or with how it would be transported]
perhaps mass composting in old open-cut mines?