California Oil Spill: Environmental Groups, Marine Scientists Call For Change

by 24USATVOct. 5, 2021, 9:50 a.m. 25
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The oil spill in California that's stretched from Huntington Beach to Newport Beach has prompted environmental groups and marine scientists to hold fossil fuel companies accountable. As California’s worst oil spill in 27 years, the leak sent up to 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of heavy crude into the ocean, contaminating the sands of famed Huntington Beach and other coastal communities. The spill could keep beaches closed for weeks or longer. The groups say the incident is a reason to transition away from oil and gas and toward clean and renewable energy. Marine Scientist Donald Boesch served on former President Barak Obama's presidential commission to investigate the BP oil spill in 2010. While this oil spill is smaller in comparison to some of the major oil leaks off the coast of the U.S., Boesch says it's another lesson that offshore spills are likely to happen, and "we have to be diligent and careful about them." "The oil and gas that lies out in the ocean off of the United States and our ability to extract it is both a technological marvel but also is a risky business and it requires doing difficult work in very difficult environments," Boesch said. "The ocean is not forgiving. And so what happened, in this case, is that we had a rather old oil field that was developed back in the 80s. And I don't I don't know whether it's all been determined yet, but it looks like it was the sort of the old infrastructure the pipelines that took the oil ashore from which the oil is leaking." Safety advocates have pushed for years for federal rules that would strengthen oil spill detection requirements and force companies to install valves that can automatically shut down the flow of crude in case of a leak. The oil and pipeline industries have resisted such requirements because of the high cost. In 1999, a 1.8-mile undersea pipeline running between two platforms sprang two leaks totaling at least 3,800 gallons of oil, causing tarballs to wash up on beaches in Orange County. The cause of the leaks was determined to be corrosion that caused pin-sized holes in the steel walls of the pipeline. The owner of the oil field at the time, a partnership between Mobil Oil Corp. and Shell Oil Co. called Aera Energy LLC, was fined $48,000 by federal regulators — a penalty environmental groups criticized as a slap on the wrist. Laura Deehan, the State Director for the group "Environment California," believes the "current penalties and fines that are in place are not adequate." "They're not doing their job of deterring oil companies from causing such harms on coastal communities and on wildlife," Deehan said. "We're also calling for stiffer penalties, and we're calling for criminal consequences for criminal charges to be filed if found to be warranted." Both Boesch and Deehan think the continued use of offshore drilling sites is a sign of the slow progress toward transitioning America's electric grid towards a clean energy future that relies of renewable technology like solar panels and wind turbines. "We are as a country and as most of the countries in the world have committed to getting to net zero emissions by greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, that doesn't mean you can continue to emit just as much as you've been emitting until 2049, then turn it off. It doesn't work that way," Boesch said. "You have to begin that transition now. You have to get almost halfway there in the next 10 years," he added. "So this means we are at a critical moment in time when those kinds of investments and the changes we need to make happen to have to happen over the next few years." Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm Subscribe to our newest channel Quicktake Explained: https://bit.ly/3iERrup Bloomberg Quicktake brings you live global news and original shows spanning business, technology, politics and culture. Make sense of the stories changing your business and your world. To watch complete coverage on Bloomberg Quicktake 24/7, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/qt/live, or watch on Apple TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Fire TV and Android TV on the Bloomberg app. Have a story to tell? Fill out this survey for a chance to have it featured on Bloomberg Quicktake: https://cor.us/surveys/27AF30 Connect with us on… YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bloomberg Breaking News on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BloombergQuickTakeNews Twitter: https://twitter.com/quicktake Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/quicktake Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quicktake

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