About five years after the Deepwater Horizon spill sent millions of barrels of crude oil gushing up from the sea-floor into the Gulf of Mexico, another offshore drilling mishap is spewing more than 100,000 barrels of the black stuff onto the California coastline and into the ocean.
And now, according to CNN, the Santa Barbara oil spill that resulted in a state-issued emergency has earned the ire of environmentalists, the public, the California state government and the federal government alike.
On Friday, May 22, the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered Texas-based oil company Plains All American — whose ruptured oil pipeline caused the spill — to halt its operations and make safety repairs on the pipeline.
The California attorney general’s office is also opening up an investigation into the causes of the spill, which has had a devastating impact on the Santa Barbara Channel’s rich, diverse ecosystem.
“California’s coastline is one of the state’s most precious natural treasures,” Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said. “This oil spill has scarred the scenic Santa Barbara coast, natural habitats and wildlife. My office is working closely with our state and federal partners on an investigation of this conduct to ensure we hold responsible parties accountable.”
A great number of species call the Santa Barbara Channel — sometimes called the “Galapogos of the North” for its unparalleled ecological wealth — home. Porpoises, dolphins, seals and sea lions all make their habitat here; blue and humpback whales, along with a range of sea birds, settle here on their migratory paths. Off the coast, the channel houses towering kelp forests inhabited by a myriad of aquatic life.
As a result, environmentalists have called the Santa Barbara spill a “wake-up call,” CNN reported. In addition to calling upon the federal and state governments to refuse new oil projects in Santa Barbara county, environmental groups are urging the nation to turn toward renewable energy.
“When we have a huge solar spill around here, we just call it a nice day,” said Dave Davis, CEO and president of the Community Environmental Council.
While workers have made good progress on the cleanup effort, U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams said cleanup “could take months.”
With enough global crude oil reserves left to meet at least another 53.3 years of production, the oil companies of today will need to make serious reforms to their production methods if they want to protect the planet that supports them.