Massive oil spill in Orange County highlights need for phase out of all CA oil production

Orange County, CA A massive spill has leaked as much as 126,000 gallons of oil from a broken pipeline connected to an offshore drilling platform about five miles off the coast of Orange County, CA. Damage has already been done to local wildlife and wetlands which can take decades to recover. 

Climate advocates say this latest disaster is just another example of why oil and gas extraction must end both onshore and offshore. They are calling on Gov. Newsom to take aggressive action to phase out existing oil production and prevent another inevitable disaster by ending the permitting of fossil fuel projects and ushering in a just transition that puts communities and workers before the profits of Big Oil. 

In response, members of Last Chance Alliance have issued the following statements: 

“This most recent oil spill is further evidence of the urgent need to phase out dangerous drilling in our state. While more than 100,000 gallons of oil seep into our water and beaches, California is also enduring yet another record-breaking wildfire season. How many emergencies does Governor Newsom need before he stops the expansion of fossil fuels in California?” – Caroline Henderson, Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner

“This devastating oil spill shows clearly that there is no safe distance from oil and gas extraction and infrastructure. Now, after Governor Newsom successfully defeated recall efforts, frontline communities are calling on the Newsom administration to prioritize people rather than fossil fuel profits and protect our communities from the ongoing public health disaster that is neighborhood oil drilling. It’s past time for setbacks and for environmental justice, and every day we delay is another accident waiting to happen.” – Kobi Naseck, Coalition Coordinator, VISION (Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods) a statewide coalition of environmental mental justice communities 

“When oil devastates the beaches and wildlife of Orange County and when fire and smoke threaten Lake Tahoe, it’s national news. And what has happened in Orange County is indeed a terrible tragedy. But every day in California, lower-income communities and communities of color in Fresno, Kern County, and elsewhere suffer from the impacts of oil and gas extraction and the consequences of their use. It is long past time for Governor Newsom to permanently halt the permitting of any new oil and gas wells or infrastructure in the state. We have the solutions. We just need the political will to secure an equitable, healthy, climate-safe future for all.” – Ellie Cohen, CEO, The Climate Center

“A thick coat of oily crude from Platform Elly is destroying critical habitat for endangered seabirds, soiling popular public beaches, and wasting millions of dollars spent on ecosystem restoration in the Huntington Beach Wetlands and Santa Ana River mouth and estuary adjacent to Banning Ranch. Our addiction to drilling for some of the dirtiest crude oil, coupled with lack of safety measures from aging, corroding underwater pipelines, makes for a deadly mix. Beaches up the coast in Long Beach, El Segundo, and Ventura and Santa Barbara County could at any moment also become victims of the same fossil fueled tragedy. Governor Newsom must put a stop to all drilling permits off our coast and coordinate a process to decommission and remediate these rigs and their associated infrastructure for the health and safety for all Californians and our endangered coastal ecosystems.” – Jack Eidt, Co-Founder of SoCal 350 Climate Action

“California has already said no to any new offshore drilling. This latest oil spill disaster off of Huntington Beach certainly isn’t the first and it won’t be the last unless Governor Newsom acts to get all fossil fuels out of our state. From the Platform A blowout in 1969 to the American Trader tanker disaster in 1990 and the Plains All American Pipeline spill in 2015, it is clear that we must act now to remove all oil infrastructure from our lands and waters before the next oil spill disaster occurs.” – Marcie Keever, Oceans & Vessels Program Director, Friends of the Earth

“This oil disaster turns up the heat on Gov. Newsom to protect Californians from oil industry pollution by stopping approvals of new oil wells statewide and ending neighborhood drilling with a health-and-safety buffer. From the ocean to our neighborhoods, the situation couldn’t be more urgent. While the crude washing up on our beaches is horrifying, it’s only a small portion of the damage the filthy oil industry does to our state every day. Our communities and our wildlife are depending on Newsom to make this latest oil disaster the last by winding down oil drilling in California.” – Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute

“There seems no end to bad news associated with our reliance on fossil fuels but when these all-too-regular oil spill disasters occur, the human and ecological risks come to high relief.  We just can’t be healthy on a planet that tolerates these recurring tragedies.  We must accelerate our path to fossil fuel independence and do it for all of the children of all of the species.”  Barbara Sattler, RN, DrPH, Professor Emeritus, University of San Francisco

“We didn’t need further proof of the devastation wreaked by fossil fuels on our environment, but here it is. The 126,000 gallons of crude oil leaching onto the shores of Huntington Beach directly threatens nearby communities, wildlife and ecosystems. It is past time for a just transition away from dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure, whether on land or at sea. The hard truth is that fossil fuels breed bigger disasters as our climate warms. The Huntington Beach oil spill is the worst in recent memory. It will likely not be the last. Governor Newsom must end all new permitting for fossil fuel drilling right now to protect Californians from worse disasters to come.” – Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy

“Offshore oil drilling is antiquated and surpassed by offshore wind technologies. The dangers of drilling, shipping and processing oil are not acceptable. This tragedy is a clear reason for Governor Newsom to lead the world and transition to a clean energy economy by rapidly phasing out fossil-fuels with a just transition,” said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director/Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America. “California has a long history of oil spills. Every time fines and criminal charges are brought, the oil industry keeps on with business as usual.  For our people, environment, and the wildlife of these communities, it’s deadly. It’s time to value people over profit. Governor Newsom must create a statewide plan  to phase out fossil fuels production  in California. Clean offshore wind could easily take over from offshore oil platforms. It’s time to end new permits for oil and gas production and invest in a just transition for oil industry workers and communities.” – California chapter of Elected Officials to Protect America

“When there’s an oil spill, our immediate attention focuses on the tragedy and clean up efforts. Omitted from the conversation is the most important question: ‘How can we prevent catastrophes like this from happening in the future?” The answer is simple – stop permitting new oil and gas wells, and stop building new oil and gas infrastructure like pipelines and refineries.” “It’s not ‘if’ an oil pipeline will spill, it’s ‘when’. And if the federal and state government won’t do what’s necessary, it’s time for local jurisdictions to step up and protect their communities by passing SAFE policies that end the expansion of fossil fuels.” – Nathan Taft, Senior SAFE Cities Campaigner for Stand.earth

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, 202-222-0746, [email protected]

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