Mario Tama/Getty Images
Seeking Answers

California Declares State of Emergency, Opens Criminal Investigation Over Horrific Oil Spill

byDan Robitzski
Oct 5
Mario Tama/Getty Images

As many as 144,000 gallons of oil leaked in Orange County.

High Alert

Officials in California are mobilizing to address the horrific oil pipeline leak off the coast of Huntington Beach in Orange County, which authorities now say dumped up to 144,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in the area on Monday, and now both state and federal authorities are pursuing a criminal investigation, The Washington Post reports, to figure out what happened and who’s responsible for the enormous oil spill that will likely close beaches for months and cause untold damage to the environment.

Whodunnit

Law enforcement have suggested that a ship’s anchor may have struck the pipeline and burst it open, according to WaPo. The ship anchor hypothesis is a “distinct possibility,” pipeline operator Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher said at a press conference, but it’s still not clear whether anyone’s arrived at a definitive answer.

Still, if that were the case, it would raise difficult questions about who’s actually responsible — and ought to be held accountable — for such a horrific leak: Amplify Energy, or the ship that happened to damage it.

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Pipeline Protest

Meanwhile, environmental advocates are using the spill to try and push President Biden to declare an environmental emergency and ban any new pipelines and fossil fuel projects, according to WaPo.

“The oil spill demonstrates exactly why it’s so important for the Biden administration to act now on fossil fuels,” Jamie Henn, organizer of the climate activist group Build Back Fossil Free, told WaPo, “rather than relying on long-term targets and a slow transition.”

READ MORE: In California oil spill, pipeline critics find a way to push Biden [The Washington Post]

More on the oil spill: Huge Oil Spill Strikes off Coast of California

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