Time to suspend California’s coastal oil leases: activists

Environmentalists say the Biden administration has the power to cancel oil and gas leases off the California coast.

Following a recent oil spill, environmentalists are urging US regulators to suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off the coast of California.

About three dozen environmental groups sent a petition to the US Department of the Interior on Wednesday, saying it has the authority to suspend and eventually cancel oil leases.

Requests for the administration of US President Joe Biden to cancel extraction in the area came less than a month after an underwater pipeline carrying oil from offshore platforms to the California coast leaked 94,635 liters. of crude to the ocean.

California extracted about seven million barrels of oil from marine sources in 2019, the latest year for which figures are available, according to US government data.

“Federal officials have the power and duty to prevent the oil industry from killing our birds, littering our beaches and polluting our climate,” said Emily Jeffers, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity who wrote the petition, in a statement on Monday. Wednesday. . “The Biden Administration Needs To Knock Down The Hammer On Offshore Drilling In California Federal Waters”.

The Interior Department declined to comment on the petition after a query from The Associated Press.

The department is required to respond to the request, Jeffers said. If not, he said environmental groups could take legal action.

The spill, believed to have taken place around Oct. 1, affected sensitive beaches and wetlands, forced fisheries to close, and damaged or killed dozens of fish and birds so far, the Center for Biological Diversity said. Full damage to wildlife is likely to take months to become apparent, he added.

Local officials and businesses in Huntington Beach, California, where oil from the spill washed ashore, also fear oil pollution will affect tourism in a region known for its surfing.

When the spill occurred in early October, Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said that some 34 square kilometers (13 square miles) of ocean and parts of the city’s coastline were “covered in oil.” However, the amount of oil spilled turned out to be less than previously thought.

US investigators have said they believe a 1,200-foot (366-meter) cargo ship dragging anchors in rough seas caught the underwater pipeline operated by Houston-based Amplify Energy and dragged it across the seabed earlier this year. .

They have not determined if the impact with the Panama-registered MSC DANIT caused this spill or if the line was hit by something else or failed due to a pre-existing problem.


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