When you think oil, you probably think Texas or the Middle East.
But California has plenty of it, offshore and on land, drilled and fracked. An oil boom rocked Southern California in the 1920s, and the map of our future metropolis was once dotted with oil-drilling rigs. Some of those locations, including parts of Ladera Heights and other nearby hills, produce black gold to this very day.
Big Oil has been drinking our milkshake for more than 100 years.
With oil comes oil spills, however. And, looking at the history of pipeline breaches in the Golden State (see video, below), you get the sense that the Santa Barbara County spill near Refugio State Beach Tuesday was a drop in the bucket.
The pipeline break reportedly put as many as 105,000 gallons into the nearby Pacific, shut down a stretch of beach, made a 23- by 7-mile patch of ocean off limits for fishing, and drew 349 federal, state and local first responders to the environmental emergency, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
A recent statement from the Center for Biological Diversity put the spill in some historic perspective:
An independent analysis of federal records has found that since 1986, more than 600 oil and gas pipeline leaks, spills and other incidents in the Golden State have caused at least $769 million in damages, 200 injuries and almost 50 deaths.
The nonprofit says California, home to hundreds of oil pipelines, is the location of an average of 23 “significant” pipeline “incidents” each year.
Miyoko Sakashita, the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program director:
The Santa Barbara spill is just the latest example of fossil fuel pipelines’ toxic threat to people and wildlife in California. These dangerous pipelines highlight the broader risks of oil production in our ocean and on land. Drilling and fracking for oil in the Golden State results in fouled beaches, dead wildlife and serious risks to human health and safety.
The organization produced this video on pipeline incidents over the years in the Golden State: