HB oil spill sparks growing calls to ban offshore oil drilling


Representative Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, said oil spills in recent years have happened for a variety of reasons.

“But the common thread is drilling, because (when) they drill, they overflow,” Levin said. “This cannot be done without significant risk. “

Levin also said the amount of oil extracted offshore is a “drop in the bucket,” and the annual amount totals about a third of a day extracted by the industry as a whole.

“The risks just aren’t worth it,” he said. “And I challenge anyone in the oil industry to explain how the economic and environmental risks of the southern California coast are worth it.”

Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-San Diego, said protecting the environment and wildlife “are two of the top concerns I hear from my constituents,” and added, “We need to focus. on decommissioning (existing oil platforms) as soon as possible. ”

The field hearing aimed to assess the impact of the spill on the region, and Breneman offered a moving account of how the oil spill affected his fishing business, which dates back four generations.

Breneman recalled how he was fishing on October 1 and he “detected a distinct smell of oil” in Newport Harbor. At first he thought it was from a spill on his own boat, and he checked the hoses and anywhere else on the boat that might have malfunctioned.

Once the oil spill was confirmed, “My sales of fish fell drastically, down 90%,” he said, adding that his customers were “scared, worried that the product was contaminated.”

He recalled how his father “struggled” under similar circumstances following another oil spill in the 1990s.

“I see exactly the same thing happening here,” he said.

He added that due to the port closures his boat was “trapped” in Newport harbor, so “I wasn’t even able to manage my accounts. And to tell you the truth, it has been a very difficult two weeks. … I don’t know how the public is going to react in the long term. ”

Breneman pointed out that he was fishing 90 miles offshore and 3,000 feet deep in “pristine waters” so his booty was not contaminated.

Desai pointed out how the oil spill shut down the Pacific Air Show in Huntington Beach, which had its own economic impacts. He said Wahoo’s Fish Taco owner Wing Lam told him that on the Saturday before the oil spill, business on the pier was like a “busy summer day,” but after the leak, “it was like a ghost town “.

Bobby Abdel, the owner of Jack’s Surfboards, maintains a large inventory of unused surfboards on the shelves, Desai said.

“I could go on and on with the stories,” Desai said. ” The message is clear. Where they drill they overthrow and when they overthrow the working class people are grappling with the consequences. … A clean and healthy ocean is the engine of our local economy. ”

When Porter asked Desai if Small Business Administration loans would help, he said yes, but added that business owners “don’t want any help or a helping hand or anything, but in circumstances like this, any help is welcome. “

Porter said the Amplify Energy subsidiary that operates the leaked Huntington Beach pipeline has received “nearly $ 20 million from the federal government, particularly because the oil wells they operate are at the end of their life. and don’t produce a lot of oil, which makes them less profitable. ”

She suggested the money would be better spent helping local businesses.

She said the company would get an additional $ 11 million for new oil wells. The Build Back Better Act would curtail these types of programs, Porter said.

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