Many Californians feel an immense kinship with the Pacific Ocean. From agriculture, to summer recreation, to providing desalinated water in an attempt alleviate the drought, California’s connection and dependence on the ocean is undeniable. For this reason, we must take threats to the Pacific — such as the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara — seriously.

 

On May 19, a Plains All American pipeline located off the coast of Santa Barbara ruptured; the mechanical failure led to the dumping of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the water. As of the date of the publication of this piece, authorities estimate that the pipe has released roughly 105,000 gallons of oil.

 

[EDITOR’S NOTE: It was later found that this estimation was slightly over the amount of oil actually released, which was 101,000 gallons. ]

 

Oil spurts uncontrollably into the sky in the 1910 Lakeview Gusher incident

The Lake View Gusher remains one of the most devastating oil spills in history. (cnn.com)

When compared to some of the worst oil spills in the country’s history — the 2010 BP oil spill dumped around 210 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico — the current spill in Santa Barbara seems minor. That does not negate the fact that thousands of gallons of crude oil have slowly flooded the nation’s western coast. America has a history of oil spills, dating all the way back to the “Lakeview Gusher” spill in 1910, which dumped 395 million gallons total.

 

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) collectively penned a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration this Thursday, calling the response to the incident “insufficient.”

 

Among their concerns: the timeliness of the incident’s reporting, inadequate safety measures to stem the flow of oil, and lack of transparency with regards to Plains All American’s plan to deal with such an event.

 

The devastating effects of the spill have already become apparent. The Guardian reports numerous rescues of pelicans, sea life, and other organisms, saying that this environmental incident has the potential to “smother ecosystems.” In an attempt to sidestep some of the bureaucracy associated with this type of event, California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency to expedite the response.

 

These continued oil spills only serve to highlight the unsustainability of reliance on fossil fuels. A system change must be made in order to free ourselves from substances that lead to these sort of accidents.

 

To help out with the cleanup efforts, you can go to the Cal Spill Watch website and learn more.

 

What do you think of the oil spill in Santa Barbara? Is enough being done? Comment below or tweet @connerws to give us your take on the matter!