On May 19th a pipeline ruptured off the coast of Santa Barbara California and spilled more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil into the pacific ocean. This spill has is deadly to wildlife. Anyone who sees oiled wildlife in the area can call 877-823-6926 to get help from the UC Davis Wildlife Care Network.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Plains Pipeline, the company responsible for the spill has amassed a lamentable rap sheet of violations. In less than a decade they have been been found guilt of a total of 175 safety and maintenance infractions. Plains All American Pipeline is one of the worst pipeline operators in the country (out of 1,700 pipeline operators, that had the fifth most infractions). In 2014 Plains All American Pipeline earned $43 billion in revenue.
Sadly the 2015 event is not the first time that an oil spill has contaminated this part of California’s coastline. This is the second time there has been a major spill in the area. Another spill off the Santa Barbara Coastline in 1969 fouled the water and killed scores of wildlife.
These two spills call us to reflect on the cost of oil. The 1969 spill helped to consolidate public opinion and advance the environmental movement. The 2015 spill may help to galvanize public opinion about the dangers of oil. It is a statistical certainty that pipelines will leak over time and no matter how they are transported fossil fuels are not safe. In addition to concerns about spills it must be understood that fossil fuels are the primary driver of climate change and as such we need to rethink our dependence on oil.