A year after a 42-year-old oil pipeline burst off the coast of Southern California that sent an estimated 25,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, conservation and climate groups are speaking out against the decision the federal government to allow the company that caused the disaster to fix the pipeline instead of shutting it down.
The US Army Corps of Engineers on Friday gave approval to Amplify Energy Corp. to repair the damaged infrastructure, a month after the company failed to contest accusations that its negligence caused the leak.
“We must oppose restarting this four-plus-decade-old pipeline and instead invest in developing a clean energy future.”
The Houston-based company’s pipeline burst on Oct. 1, 2021 off the coast of Huntington Beach, Calif., and continued to spit crude oil for 13 hours before the pipeline was finally shut down. The workers would have believed that the alert system that had gone off after the spill was a false alarm.
The federal government’s decision to allow Amplify to continue to service drilling rigs in the Pacific will increase “the risk of another oil spill on California’s beautiful coastline,” said Brady Bradshaw, campaign manager at the oceans program. from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). , in a statement on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, people living near offshore drilling infrastructure know this abusive cycle of drill, dump, repeat all too well,” Bradshaw said. “We must quickly eliminate all dangerous and failing offshore oil infrastructure, not issue more permits that invite the next disaster.”
Last year’s spill forced authorities to close area beaches for a week and shut down fishing for a month. While at least 45 birds died from exposure to the spill, dozens more had to be rescued after being covered in oil and injured.
The pipeline burst after ships’ anchors hit infrastructure during a storm, and Amplify blamed the ships for the spill when federal prosecutors charged the company with negligence, but agreed to pay a fine of $7 million and nearly $6 million to reimburse expenses incurred. by the government. The company also agreed to install a new leak detection system and train employees on how to respond to any leaks.
After obtaining approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers, the company plans to operate the repaired pipeline in the first quarter of 2023.
The plan flies in the face of repeated warnings from climate scientists and energy experts who say that continuing to extract fossil fuels – and building new infrastructure to do so – will keep the planet from warming below 1 .5° Celsius above. pre-industrial temperatures and ensure sea levels continue to rise and extreme weather events continue to inflict damage on frontline communities around the world.
“The Amplify oil spill was a stark reminder of the detrimental effects offshore oil drilling has on our coastal environment, our communities, and the planet. Instead of extending the life of aging infrastructure, we must begin the transition to an energy clean and move us away from fossil fuels,” said Angela Howe, senior legal director of the Surfrider Foundation. “We must oppose restarting this four-plus-decade-old pipeline and instead invest in developing a clean energy future.”
The Surfrider Foundation posted a video of last year’s oil spill on social media last week and said “existing offshore drilling off California and beyond must be halted with the rapid dismantling of infrastructure oil and gas companies in accordance with federal, state and local laws.”
CBD noted that in giving its approval for the pipeline repair, the Biden administration ignored demands made by eight members of Congress in June, including Democratic Representatives Katie Porter, Jared Huffman and Sara Jacobs, all from California.
Lawmakers called for “adequate environmental review and opportunity for public input” before any approval by the Corps.
CBD last week sued the federal government for allowing oil companies to operate off the coast of Southern California under “outdated drilling plans written in the 1970s and 80s.”
“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management did not review and require revision of the plans, despite last year’s oil spill,” CBD said. “The outdated plans indicated that the offshore platforms should have been fully decommissioned over a decade ago.”