“Drilling is killing - it's not a question of if, it's a question of when” - Surfrider
“Drilling is killing - it's not a question of if, it's a question of when” - Surfrider
Offshore drilling is the extraction of oil or gas off the coastline that is transported back to shore, refined and turned into products. Oil spills affect every aspect of the surrounding area–water quality, sea life, the coast, the beaches, homeowners along the coast and establishments such as harbors, businesses, and fisheries. Depending on the amount of oil spilled, clean up can take multiple months and cause the area's health and stability to decline.
The impact causes the temporary closure of harbors, coastal establishments and fisheries due to poor water quality, the inability to carry on with routine procedures and the loss in products.
On October 1, 2021, 25,000 gallons of oil was spilled into the Pacific Ocean 4 ½ miles off the coast of Huntington Beach, California. Causing 13 square miles of damage to the ocean and the inhabitants within. Making contact with the shore and parts of the land, the oil consumed everything within its path–washing up on the beaches and through the marshes and wetlands. Beaches were closed for 10-11 days after the incident.
There was a muli-month clean up that was assisted by agencies, organizations, foundations, individual volunteers and local companies. In December of 2021, the affected coast and ocean area were finally placed into the restoration phase and establishments were set to re-open.
Upon the initial incident, the Southern California Spill Response was on the ground and in the water assisting with the clean up–setting up safety perimeters, sending out cleaning boats, & aircraft oversight assessments. Tests were taken to gather information about the spill itself, the cause and the quality of the water they found, “Preliminary findings estimate that 24,696 gallons represents the minimum amount of oil released from the pipeline based on flow metering following the recovery of crude oil using negative pressure.” - SCSR
The SCSR website has many sections and external links that provide further explanation and education on the subject. SCSR had a blog during and after the spill that provided continuously updated information on the status of the spill and the surrounding areas. They also have the USCG Twitter page linked to the homepage, which provides visual and immediate information.
“The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.” - Surfrider
The grassroots organization was on the ground and in the water helping the clean up in every capacity. When the incident first occurred, the CEO was contacted and many of them traveled down to command control to watch the spill live. Members of Surfrider, other organizations, legislative officials and representatives were on the scene and tried to figure out the best comprehensible way to tell the public what had happened.
In the wake of the spill, Surfrider was able to get 100 cities along the California coast to sign a resolution agreeing to stop the construction of new offshore drilling rigs.
Surfrider also posted a media statement on September 30, 2022, the day prior to the discussion panel, informing the public there is still work to be done and Amplify Energy Corporation still needs to be held accountable for their action.
The BAPPC is built up of bureaus, realtor associations, sports industry, restaurants, and fishing corporations–basically any business that is located up and down the coast of California. Upon the spill, BAPPC was on the ground alongside Surfrider, SCSR and other environmental agencies and organizations. They were able to collect 8,100 signatures from members of the community in support of ending the building of offshore drilling rigs.
According to KC Fockler, Co-Chairman of Surfrider HB Chapter, a lot of coastline cities that hold harbors, boats or any other aquatic environments are not equipped with the tools and resources to be prepared or follow up on an oil spill. The City of Huntington Beach and Orange County were not prepared for the spill that took place. “Why wasn't it already on the forefront of anybody’s mind? On their environmental plan? Their harbor plan? Their coastal plan?” - KC Fockler
Their only saving grace was a grant that was enacted by their local fire department a few months prior to the spill, stating that booms would be bought and dispersed in the water along the coast, in the event of an oil spill. According to Oil Spill Prevention and Response, “booms are temporary floating barriers used to contain marine spills, protect the environment, and assist in recovery. A boom includes a containment partition that floats on and extends above the water's surface, and a "skirt" or "curtain" that sinks into the water.” A boom can be displayed in any configuration depending on the wind and water current.
Booms are crucial in assisting with oil spills and preventing any further environmental damage. They divert spills away from sensitive areas, contain treatment for the on-site clean up and prevent surface burning with complete encompassing.
The production of new oil rigs is another leading cause of coastline spills. According to Fockler, Bixby and Stauffer, there are many rigs off the coast of California that are no longer in production because the technology is not up to date or easily functional anymore. In turn, the production of new, more efficient and higher technology rigs are being built to outgrow the others. Therefore there are twice as many rigs out in the ocean, active or not.
Companies such as Amplify Energy Corporation are not held accountable for their damages caused. The accountability, cooperation and assistance is warranted from these companies to the beaches, the cities and these organizations responsible for the clean up.
Some good news, on October 18th of this year  the City of Huntington Beach and the CEO of Amplify Energy, Martyn Wilsher, have reached a settlement for the oil spill of 2021–$50 million will be fairly distributed to the fishing industry, homeowners and tourism related companies that were highly affected by said spill. An estimated 10,000 people will be eligible for compensation as well.
Many factors go into stopping offshore drilling and since many solutions are wrapped in red tape and legal discrepancies, solutions will take a longer time to obtain. But, there are many things people can do in the meantime to physically stop, prevent and help diminish oil spills.
According to Fockler, Bixby and Stauffer, all the oil rigs off the coast of California were approved decades ago and there’s a strong challenge to decommission them. Contacting your local officials and working alongside government agencies are solid options to further push said decommission.
“Communicate with representatives and get involved because most people don't, they need to hear from individuals,” - Pete Stauffer
On a wider scale, nationally there are many oil rigs along coastlines that have the possibility of causing damage to their local areas. The Biden Administration is looking to commission and produce new oil rigs off the coast of Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico–Surfrider and the BAPPC are fighting to stop that potential.
After the Huntington Beach oil spill, many people were noticing tarballs on the beaches, streets and wildlife in that area. Tarballs are dark colored pieces of compacted oil, produced from either an oil spill or natural seeps. If people come across any of these tarballs, Surfrider informs the public to not physically touch or pick up, for they are chemically hazardous - contact them through their website. Both Surfrider and the SCSR have an easily accessible link on their website that people can report the location of these tarballs. That way, these organizations can determine whether they were caused naturally or by an oil spill–this in turn helps with data collection and adds to more credible information about these spills.
One of the best ways one can help, according to Fockler, Bixby and Stauffer is to donate to credible organizations such as Surfrider, become a member or volunteer. During the days after the spill in 2021, Surfrider had around 2,000 people sign up to help volunteer and were going to undergo hours of training in order to be well equipped with assistance. Physically being on the ground is the most immediately effective way to help.
Fockler, Bixby and Stauffer answered the most common misconception questions about oil spills. The public are made to believe that offshore drilling of oil or gas causes an increase in gas prices and an economic boom, due to the possibility of the transactions happening with said oil. This is NOT true–global markets are the entities that set the gas price and that is determined by international supply and demand. Gas Prices 101 gives a great educational insight on how gas prices are determined, historical prices that have occurred and when they will decrease and increase based on a collection of factors.
Get the best content and best stories
in your inbox every day!