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JOINT RELEASE: Center for Biological Diversity, Surfrider Foundation, and Orange County Coastkeeper

October 1, 2022

Biden Administration Greenlights Work on California Pipeline Linked to 2021 Huntington Beach Oil Spill 

One Year After Spill, Federal Permit Paves Way to Restart Aging Pipeline  

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a key permit on Friday for underwater repairs that will allow the restart of the 42-year-old pipeline that ruptured off Orange County in October 2021. The rupture spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into 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, servicing offshore oil platforms in federal waters.  

“The Biden administration just ramped up the risk of yet another ugly oil spill on California’s beautiful coast,” said Brady Bradshaw, a senior campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program. “Unfortunately, people living near offshore drilling infrastructure are all too familiar with this abusive cycle of drill, spill, repeat. We need to quickly phase out all dangerous, failing offshore oil infrastructure, not issue more permits that invite the next disaster.” 

In June eight members of Congress from Southern California sent a letter to federal agencies urging opportunities for public input and comprehensive environmental review. Those requests were not granted. 

“The Amplify oil spill was a stark reminder of the damaging impacts of offshore oil drilling to our coastal environment, communities and the planet. Instead of elongating the life of aging infrastructure, we need to start the transition to clean energy and away from fossil fuels,” said Angela Howe, Surfrider Foundation senior legal director. “We must oppose the restart of this pipeline that is over four decades old and instead invest in the development of 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 witnessed firsthand, the deteriorating and unproductive platforms off Southern California’s coast are a constant risk to the health of humans and wildlife. It is well past 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 Platform Elly and other offshore oil production in the Beta oilfield to operate under outdated drilling plans written in the 1970s and ‘80s.

The lawsuit notes that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has 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 most of California’s offshore oil infrastructure are operating years, in some cases decades, beyond the lifespan projected by the initial environmental review. In December another oil leak originated from a pipeline operated by DCOR, LLC, that runs from Platform Eva to shore through state waters off Huntington Beach. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Orange County Coastkeeper is a nonprofit organization protecting clean water through education, advocacy, restoration, enforcement, and research.