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Environmental group sues government for pipeline spillage

Environmental group sues government for pipeline spillage

LOS ANGELES (CNS). Wednesday’s lawsuit by an environmental group in Los Angeles against the federal government alleges that officials are failing protect endangered sea turtles and whales from oil and gas drilling off California coast.


What you need to know

  • Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit after an underground pipeline connecting to drilling platforms in Orange County burst in early October
  • According to the suit, the spillage caused sensitive beaches and wetlands to be contaminated, which led to fishery closures. It also killed or injured dozens of marine mammals, birds, and fish.
  • Multiple oil sheens were reported at Huntington Beach following the spillage.
  • The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court Los Angeles seeking a court order that would require the suspension of all new drilling permits from California’s coast.

Center for Biological Diversity brought the lawsuit after an undersea pipe connecting to drilling platforms off Orange County burst in October. It spewed tens of thousands gallons of oil into ocean. According to the suit, the oil spillage caused damage or death to dozens of fish, birds, and marine mammals.

Kristen Monsell, oceans director at the center, stated that “Endangered Whales and other marine life were subject to oil spillage after oil spillage off California’s coast, but the federal government has failed them to protect them.”

The oil industry is causing the oceans to be polluted and this should not cause suffering for these endangered animals. She said that a robust, science-based analysis would prove that drilling off California is too risky for wildlife and the climate. It should be stopped as soon as possible.”

Multiple oil sheens have been reported from Huntington Beach since the spillage. At least one oil sheen was reported to have come from an offshore pipeline. These incidents are among a long list that have been caused by oil industry spillages and problems along California’s coast, such as the massive 2015 Refugio oil leak near Santa Barbara.

The center sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. It also named the National Marine Fisheries Service. The suit alleged that the agencies’ existing Endangered species Act analysis failed to plan or predict an oil spillage as large as the one that occurred in San Pedro Bay over three months ago.

A spokesperson for BOEM declined to comment.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court Los Angeles seeking a court order that would require the suspension of all new drilling permits off California’s coast, while agencies re-examine the threat to endangered species.

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A previous suit prompted the Trump administration to complete an Endangered Species Analysis for oil and gas activity off California’s shores under the Endangered Species Act in 2017. According to the center, it was the first time in over 30 years that a consultation on drilling activities off California had been completed.

According to the center’s analysis, drilling off the coast would not negatively affect endangered or threatened sea turtles, whales, and other species.

According to the group, this conclusion was based upon the assumption that an oil leak is unlikely and that even if it did occur it would be limited at 8,400 gallons. According to the environmental group, the lawsuit by the center highlights the fact that the recent oil spillage off California was more than the Trump-era estimate.

The lawsuit claims that the current analysis is not based in the best science and fails to take into account new information regarding the danger to whales being struck by ships engaged with oil and gas activity. It also discusses how existing oil drilling can worsen the climate crisis and impact newly designated critical habitats of humpback whales.

According to the Biological Diversity Center, the Fisheries Service has recently observed a 400% increase on humpback deaths and serious injury due to human activities since 2018.

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