Mere hours after President Obama signed the PIPES safety bill into law, a pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of oil. Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 became law on June 22nd. Within hours of the signing an oil pipeline erupted in Ventura County, California. It was first noticed by a local rancher early Thursday morning.
The spill emanated from a ten inch underground pipeline owned by Colorado-based Crimson Pipeline LLC. It sent an estimated 29,400 gallons of crude oil down into an arroyo that flows through the city of Ventura and reaches the ocean near the Ventura Pier. The spill marks Crimson’s 11th such incident in the last ten years.
The law was drafted in response to a plethora of fossil fuel spills, especially California’s Porter Ranch leak which spewed a staggering 97,000 tons of methane.
The PIPES act increases safety provisions in the construction and operation of fossil fuels facilities. It also and gives the government expanded authority to act quickly in the event of a spill. This includes new emergency powers for the Secretary of Transportation.
Oil spills are common throughout North America, but they are especially prevalent in California. On May 19, 2015, a corroded Plains All American pipeline spewed 143,000 gallons of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara and at least 25,000 gallons poured into the ocean. The spill created a nine mile oil slick. Governor Jerry Brown called it an “environmental disaster” and declared a state of emergency.
Planes All American Pipeline have been been found guilt of a total of 175 safety and maintenance infractions. The Houston company has been indicted on 46 criminal counts and faces fines of around $3 million due to the Santa Barbara spill.
In December, more than 8,800 gallons of oil leaked in Somis. In May of this year 21,000 Gallons of oil spilled from the underground San Pablo Bay Pipeline near Tracy in San Joaquin County. These spills and the many others in California take place against the backdrop of the epic Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969.
It is a statistical certainty that pipelines will spill. Just as birds fly, and fish swim, oil leaks. The only way to keep the oil from spilling is to stop it from flowing.
Oil spills have become commonplace, but we cannot afford to be blase. The preponderance of leaks adds to concerns about the existential threat posed by the climate destroying properties of the commodities they transport.
In the past oil pipelines were the lifeblood of our industrial might, however we now know that they are harbingers of an apocalyptic future. These arteries of death, like the hydrocarbons they transport, must be phased out of our energy mix.
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