Californians grapple with another pipeline leak

Intro

Thousands of gallons of oil is at risk of leaking into the Pacific Ocean following a major pipeline burst in California Thursday. The pipeline, belonging to Californian oil company Aera Energy, was carrying crude through the coastal community of Ventura County. Estimates suggest that 700 barrels of oil – the equivalent of 30,000 gallons – may have spilled thus far. This news comes just months after a methane leak from a gas storage facility in Porter Ranch, California forced residents in the afflicted community to evacuate the area. With the US coast guard working to keep the spill from seeping into the ocean, and firefighters monitoring fumes and air quality, this latest spill sheds yet another spotlight on the dangers of fossil fuel infrastructure to communities.

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Key Points

  • Fossil fuels wreak havoc on the climate, the environment and people’s health. In February, when a natural gas leaked in Porter Ranch, the failure released 77,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere at it’s height – the equivalent climate impact of 7 million cars on the road. Meanwhile, this oil spill in Ventura could have devastating environmental impacts on coastal wildlife, and may also release fumes that lead to breathing issues.
  • There is no safe way of transporting any fossil fuel. The dangers of carrying oil by rail is clearer than ever, as seen with the Canadian town of Lac Megantic, which was forced to rebuild its communities after disaster hit. Pipelines, however, still come with significant risks as seen in Ventura County and communities worldwide, making it more important than ever to seek alternative energy sources than those that come from the ground.
  • Accelerating the ongoing energy transition would keep communities safe while growing the economy. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), if the world doubled its current market share of renewable energy to 36 per cent by 2030 – which the Clean Power Plan helps to do – global GDP would see a boost of $1.3 trillion. Moving the US to a safer, healthier economy is smart policy, and programs like the Clean Power Plan would allow the country to tap into the $54 billion in potential health and climate benefits.

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Quotes

  • “It’s infuriating to see another oil spill so soon after the devastation in Santa Barbara. We forget the real cost of fossil fuels and the big risks that come with Big Oil – from oil spills to health impacts near drilling sites to the disastrous derailment of oil trains, like the one in Oregon recently. […] We need to invest in clean energy and real solutions that don’t harm people, wildlife and our planet. Today’s spill is another reminder that even as our country has begun to move away from oil, we need to move faster. The human and environmental costs are just too high.” – Damon Nagami, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Southern California Ecosystems Project
  • “We will never forget what we experienced in the days following that spill: a half-mile slick of crude oil along our coast, the stench of petroleum, oil-drenched birds, holiday visitors sent home and a beach transformed into a toxic cleanup site.” – Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, (D-Santa Barbara)
  • “We’ve got to stop thinking about these oil spills as accidents and start regarding them as completely predictable ecological tragedies that we can prevent with strong action.” – Kristen Monsell, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity

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