LONG BEACH, California– The US Army Corps of Engineers on Friday issued a key permit for underwater repairs that will allow the restart of the 42-year-old pipeline that ruptured off the coast of Orange County in October 2021. The rupture spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil in the Pacific Ocean.
The 2021 spill closed beaches for a week, restricted fishing for months, and killed and injured hundreds of animals. The pipeline runs from Platform Elly to Long Beach, serving offshore oil rigs in federal waters.
“The Biden administration has just increased the risk of another oil spill on California’s beautiful coast,” said Brady Bradshaw, campaign manager for the oceans program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, people living near offshore drilling infrastructure know all too well this abusive cycle of drill, dump, repeat. We must quickly eliminate all dangerous and failing offshore oil infrastructure, not issue more permits that invite the next disaster.
In June, eight Southern California congressmen sent a letter to federal agencies asking for opportunities for public input and a full environmental review. These requests were not granted.
“The Amplify oil spill was a stark reminder of the detrimental effects offshore oil drilling has on our coastal environment, our communities and the planet. Instead of extending the life of aging infrastructure, we need to start the transition to clean energy and move away from fossil fuels,” said Angela Howe, Senior Legal Director of the Surfrider Foundation. “We must oppose restarting this four-plus-decade-old pipeline and instead invest in developing a clean energy future.”
“Last year’s devastating spill is still fresh in the minds of Orange County residents,” said Garry Brown, Founder and President of Orange County Coastkeeper. “As we have seen with our own eyes, the deteriorated and unproductive rigs off the coast of Southern California pose a constant risk to the health of humans and wildlife. It is high time to decommission California’s offshore oil and gas infrastructure, and this irresponsible permit is a step in the wrong direction.”
On Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the federal government for allowing the Elly platform and other offshore oil productions in the Beta oilfield to operate under outdated drilling plans written in the 1970s and 1980s.
The lawsuit notes that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management failed to review and require revision of the plans, despite last year’s oil spill. The outdated plans indicated that the offshore platforms should have been fully decommissioned more than a decade ago.
Amplify Energy’s pipeline and much of California’s offshore oil infrastructure is operating years, in some cases decades, beyond the lifespan predicted by the initial environmental review. In December, another oil leak was from a pipeline operated by DCOR, LLC, which runs from the Eva platform to shore through state waters off Huntington Beach.