Following the massive crude oil spill off the coast of Orange County on Oct. 1, several state and federal agencies have convened panels to analyze events and develop practices to prevent similar disasters in the future. Unfortunately, the state is generally more adept at holding hearings than at implementing useful solutions.
The state assembly held a special oversight committee hearing in Costa Mesa on Monday to examine leak prevention measures. These are useful exercises to inform the public, given the worrying ecological and economic effects of such spills, but the consultation focused on predictable ideological rabbit conditions.
“I would like to express my deep disappointment at Amplify Energy’s refusal to attend today’s hearing,” Cottie Petrie-Norris, of D-Laguna Beach, said at the hearing. Amplify’s subsidiary used an oil rig connected to a broken underwater pipeline.
Although Petrie-Norris claimed that Amplify’s absence showed that it did not care – or had anything to hide – about the leak, the company’s response was more than reasonable. The company is facing several investigations and lawsuits, and instead is working in “Unified Command as the response continues.”
Several lawmakers have adopted their usual tactics and used the disaster to defend a ban on drilling offshore. Some members of Congress have called for an end to new oil exploration efforts in federal waters, while others are working to shut down all offshore oil drilling.
Senator Dave Min, D-Irvine, told VoiceofOC that he would introduce the relevant legislation. Governor Gavin Newsom attended a press conference last month calling for an end to oil exploration on the coast. Still, putting a kibosh in the drill will only raise the state’s soaring gasoline prices, and there are more intermediate options available. The state should focus less on layout and more on common sense approaches.
For example, few lawmakers talked about the probable cause of the recent leak. “U.S. Coast Guard officials have said they believe the ship’s anchor may have been trapped and pulled by a pipeline connected to the offshore oil rig,” according to the Orange County Register.
This is linked to supply chain problems in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where a shipping bottleneck has caused as many as 111 container vessels to idle off the coast and sent them to areas where they do not normally anchor.
State and local responses to the leak have been lower. Petrie-Norris wondered about the “long delay” between the preliminary reports and possible official responses and why the sheriff’s officials waited until the next morning. “It looks amazing in a world where we have people flying to Mars that we can’t check for a reported oil spill in the dark,” the assembly added.
The city of Huntington Beach happened to have stockpiles of cleaning supplies, but VoiceofOC reports that city mayor Kim Carr “asked questions about the lack of communication and conflicting information his city received from the U.S. Coast Guard earlier in the year. Leak.”
In other words, state and federal agencies respond slowly and bureaucratically. Instead of embracing unnecessary and financial disruption, California must admit that its current failures exacerbated this leak. And the governor should spend more time dealing with the port crisis than attending press conferences calling for an end to offshore drilling.