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HomeNewsCity NewsOrange County Oil Spill Prompts New Proposals to End Offshore Drilling

Orange County Oil Spill Prompts New Proposals to End Offshore Drilling

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An oil spill of approximately 144,000 gallons was reported off the coast of Southern California on Oct. 2. The pipeline, overseen by Amplify Energy Corp., ruptured approximately 4.5 miles from shore.

While some beaches across the shoreline are closed until further recovery efforts can be set in motion, other beaches like Newport Harbor, Dana Point Harbor, Strands Beach and Salt Creek Beach have reopened. Environmentalists and cleanup crews are working to clear the oil and preserve the wildlife impacted by the spill. The long term effects of the spill remain unknown at this time. 

California’s coast has experienced five oil spills in the last 50 years, raising questions about the legislation aimed toward protecting the environment and regulating corporations like Amplify Energy.  

Sen. Dave Min of California’s 37th district was the first to call for an end to offshore drilling in state waters in light of the incident. 

“The Orange County Oil Spill illustrates once again that offshore oil drilling is a bad deal for Californians,” Min said in an Oct. 5 statement. “The revenues and jobs created by offshore drilling are miniscule in size compared to the negative economic impacts this creates.” 

Min is supported by other voices like Sen. Josh Newman, who represents Orange County.

“[G]iven the economic and environmental impacts of this Orange County Oil Spill, and the future risks that offshore drilling poses to our precious coastal communities, we are urging you to be Orange County’s champions in the United States Congress and commit to ending all offshore drilling, including under current leases, in federal waters off the coast of California,” Newman said in a letter to Orange County’s federal legislative representatives on Oct 7. 

Similar policies to end new offshore drilling were proposed in Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s West Coast Ocean Preservation Act and Rep. Mike Levin’s American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act. 

Student organizations, such as the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), are calling for an end to drilling. Board Chairman and 100% Clean Energy Campaign Coordinator Ria Coen Gilbert responded to the incident with a call to action for state leaders.

“We need state leaders to speed up California’s transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy economy-wide and put an end to oil drilling that pollutes our waters and harms wildlife,” Gilbert said in a statement on Oct. 6.  “Let’s make my generation the last to experience devastating oil spills.”

For Student Chapter Chair of CALPIRG at UCI Tabitha Turner, the oil spill reached close to home.

“It’s devastating to see the oil spill right in our backyard at Huntington Beach and the Talbert Marsh … unfortunately, this is just another example that if we drill, we spill,” Turner said. 

While individual action for California’s coast can be instituted through legislative support, physical action at this time is highly discouraged by the Orange County Operational Area Emergency Operations Center.

Further information regarding public volunteering can be found here. If oiled wildlife is identified, the Emergency Center urges witnesses to avoid contact and call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 1-877-823-6926. 


Erin Boshers is a City News Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at eboshers@uci.edu.