The Trump administration’s offshore drilling plan is a disaster for the environment and public health, but they’re not stopping. In response, local officials across the country are taking action to protect their citizens from this reckless policy.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (CBSLA) — In the wake of the Huntington Beach oil disaster, Rep. Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, increased his demands for an offshore drilling moratorium on Monday.
“Obviously, I’m worried about the safety of my people and the beaches,” Levin added. “In my opinion, all offshore drilling should be stopped, and current offshore drilling should be phased out.”
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Levin has proposed legislation to accomplish exactly that, and the Biden administration’s Build Back Better infrastructure plan has identical wording.
“Our wording on page 984 would prohibit new drilling off the California coast and in other areas of the country,” Levin added.
During the Trump administration, Levin met with former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to discuss the problem.
“What guarantee can you offer me that you would respect the vast majority of people along the Southern California coast?” I asked. Levin remarked. “This is a genuinely bipartisan agreement. Offshore drilling must be prohibited. However, he said, ‘I will not provide you with any guarantee.’ They were also actively trying to see if they could increase the quantity of drilling, as we all know.”
(Photo courtesy of Anadolu Agency/Sefa Degirmenci via Getty Images)
While the Biden administration supports attempts to relax restrictions on offshore drilling, Levin believes it must be codified into law. Offshore drilling, according to Levin, makes no sense in Southern California.
“There’s no reason we should be drilling off the coast when tourism is so important to our economy,” Levin added. “Think about all the little companies that will be harmed as a result of our beaches being closed for weeks. Unfortunately, this will have a significant impact on our local economy.”
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, is one of his allies.
In a statement, Padilla said, “We’ve witnessed time and time again how devastating offshore oil spills are to our coastal ecosystems as well as our economy.” “This is another another avoidable environmental disaster that threatens to damage key marine and wetland ecosystems for years while also causing significant economic hardship for local people. My office is keeping a close eye on the containment and cleaning operations, and I will do all in my power to ensure Orange County gets the help it requires.”
(Image courtesy of Mario Tama/Getty Images)
“We have the ability to avoid future spills,” Padilla said. That is why I am determined to put a stop to offshore oil drilling. The message is clear as Congress develops new infrastructure and climate legislation to meet our country’s needs: we must move quickly to phase out hazardous fossil fuels. I encourage my colleagues to adopt the West Coast Ocean Protection Act as soon as possible to avoid yet another needless environmental disaster.”
Padilla is a co-sponsor of the West Coast Ocean Protection Act, which would prohibit oil and gas development off California, Oregon, and Washington’s coastlines. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California, came out in support of stopping off-shore drilling as well.
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, heads the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, and has asked for a “multi-agency Biden administration inquiry” of the oil disaster. Lowenthal intends to conduct a hearing on the leak and the clean-up operation.
In a statement, Lowenthal stated, “It is vitally important that we identify the source of this leak and decide what measures Congress may take to avoid such accidents in the future.” “For far too long, the offshore drilling industry has concealed behind the bare minimum of safety regulations, putting profits ahead of public safety, public health, and environmental preservation. This needs to come to an end.”
“Those responsible for this leak must be held accountable and forced to pay for the environmental catastrophes they have created – not US taxpayers,” Lowenthal added. The oil business often transfers the expense of cleaning up its mistakes to the public, whether during a catastrophe or just walking away. This, too, must come to an end.”
(AFP/DAVID MCNEW/Getty Images) )
“Offshore fossil fuel production in federal seas poses one of the greatest dangers to the people and our environment,” Lowenthal said, adding that it should be one of the first sources to be phased out. To avoid these recurrent ecological catastrophes, Congress must take immediate action, including adopting the West Coast Ocean Protection Act, which would permanently prohibit oil and gas drilling in federal seas off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.”
The leak, according to Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, has “not just an effect on tourists, but also on marine life and water fowl.”
Some business executives think that off-shore oil drilling can keep gas prices low, but she asked, “How do we balance environmental and economic interests?” I see all sides of the argument, therefore tough choices must be made.”
Consumer Watchdog and the FracTracker Alliance released a statement on Monday urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to halt the issuance of oil licenses in state waterways.
Consumer Watchdog’s Liza Tucker stated, “This latest disaster makes it obvious like never before that there is no such thing as safe proximity to oil drilling.” “If his own oil and gas supervisor refuses to establish a 2,500-foot barrier between vulnerable communities and oil activities, Gov. Newsom must cease granting both offshore and onshore licenses immediately.”
A pipeline break certainly caused one of the biggest oil spills in recent Southern California history, which made its way to Huntington Beach on Sunday and Monday, killing fish, birds, and other coastal animals and forcing a shoreline closure and the cancellation of the Pacific Airshow’s third day.
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register)
On Saturday, 126,000 gallons of oil spilled from the offshore oil rig Elly, washing ashore in Orange County and into the coastal waterways, according to officials. Officials believe the spill was triggered by a pipeline rupture from a Beta Offshore plant approximately five miles off the coast.
The oil slick covered almost six miles from the Huntington Beach pier to the Balboa pier, and the beach between the Santa Ana River jetty and the Huntington Beach Pier was closed. Because of the possible health risks, health authorities advised people not to swim, surf, or exercise near the beach. The public was also advised not to fish in the region since the waters are poisonous.
In a press conference on Monday, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife official claimed that the agency’s crews had collected and treated four birds who were “oiled” as a result of the huge spill in Orange County, one of which, a brown pelican, had to be killed due to “chronic ailments.”
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“Oil has reached the shore here in Huntington Beach, and it seems like oil has entered the Talbert Marsh as well,” Carr added. Mayor Kim Carr of Huntington Beach called the situation a “possible ecologic catastrophe,” adding that part of the oil had made its way to the beach and was affecting the Talbert Marshlands and the Santa Ana River Trail.
On Sunday, oil started to wash ashore at Newport Beach, prompting authorities to urge visitors not to swim, despite the fact that the ocean had not yet been closed. Laguna Beach’s beaches were likewise closed to the public as of 9 p.m. Sunday.
(Getty Images/Nick Ut)
On Sunday, fourteen vessels participated in oil recovery efforts. Three Coast Guard vessels maintained a 1,000-yard safety zone around the oil spill boats. For overflight inspections, four planes were sent. A total of 105 government employees were involved in the shoreside reaction.
The rig began to leak on Friday, according to lifeguards who said they smelt strong oil smells in the vicinity. As dead birds and fish covered in oil began to wash ashore, crews stayed on site overnight Sunday to help with the clean-up. So far, 3,150 gallons of oil have been collected from the sea, and 5,360 feet of boom has been deployed to keep the oil from spreading.
On Sunday, O.C. Supervisor Katrina Foley said the pipeline was still suspected of leaking.
The leak happened in federal waters at the Elly platform, which was constructed in 1980 to handle crude oil from two other platforms that were drawing from the Beta Field reservoir. Amplify Energy Corp., headquartered in Houston, is the parent company of Beta Offshore.
Elly is one of three platforms run by Beta Operating Co., which also runs Ellen and Eureka in the neighborhood. Elly is supplied by around 70 oil wells and processes oil from Ellen and Eureka. The platform isolates the oil from the water. According to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Elly is one of 23 oil and gas platforms constructed in federal waters off the coast of Southern California. Apart from Elly, a processing plant, there are 20 additional oil and gas production facilities, two of which are being decommissioned.
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(AFP/Getty Images/DAVID MCNEW) )
Although authorities claimed animals had already been harmed, skimming equipment and booms were deployed to prevent oil from entering the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach Wetlands. Huntington Beach informed Foley on Sunday that the wildlife in the Talbert Wetlands had been “dramatically affected.”
Foley said, “Wildlife is dying.” “It’s a really terrible situation. There have been reports of dead animals washing up on the shore in the Huntington Beach State Beach area, as well as species dying within the Marsh and wetlands.”
The Pacific Airshow’s last day was also canceled due to the leak on Sunday.
The airshow has been canceled, according to Foley. “Unfortunately, it is the case. I had planned to go, and I am unhappy, as are the 1.5 million other people who had planned to attend today, but we just cannot have the airshow, despite the fact that the organizers were extremely helpful. They understand how difficult it is to clean up with so many people.”
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“This oil leak serves as a sad warning that offshore drilling poses a grave danger to our coast and wildlife,” said Miyoko Sakashita, head of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Oceans program. “I’ve been up up and personal with the old oil platforms off Huntington Beach, and I know it’s past time to decommission these time bombs. The oil industry continues to spill and leak into California’s coastal waters despite penalties and criminal charges because these firms just aren’t capable of functioning properly. The only answer is to put an end to this filthy business.”
At least one dirty ruddy duck was being treated by state wildlife authorities, and local animal rescue organizations were mobilizing to assist.
Debbie McGuire, director of the Wetlands & Wildlife Center in Huntington Beach, told the Orange County Register, “We have all our gear out, which includes masks and goggles for our employees.” “We also have IV fluids on hand to keep the animals stable.” She claimed the spill on Sunday resulted in at least five birds arriving to the facility.
If required, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach made its personnel and facilities accessible.
Due of the oil leak, Laguna Beach authorities closed all beaches in the city as of 9 p.m. Sunday.
Because currents were pushing south from Huntington Beach, Long Beach authorities stated their beaches and swimming areas were unaffected by the spill.
(Getty Images/Nick Ut)
The leak was eerily similar to another ecological catastrophe that occurred decades ago. On Feb. 7, 1990, the American Trader oil tanker went over its anchor and pierced its hull, spewing an estimated 416,600 gallons of crude oil off the shore of Huntington Beach, killing an estimated 3,400 birds.
According to the DFW, the Wetlands and Animals Care Center was created on March 31, 1998 at 21900 Pacific Coast Highway as a consequence of the spill to assist wounded and orphaned wildlife, including oil-soiled birds. According to the center’s website, a temporary hospital at that location treated birds wounded in the 1990 spill.
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The source of the leak is being looked into. In the interim, the public is encouraged to contact 1-877-823-6826 to report any wildlife that has been harmed. Visit the Surfrider Foundation and HB Wetlands & Wildlife websites if you want to help with cleaning or wildlife recovery efforts.