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Rep. Steel Leads Letter Demanding Oil Spill Investigation

October 5, 2021

Huntington Beach, CA – Today Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) led members of the Southern California Congressional Delegation in a letter to President Biden demanding a federal investigation into the oil spill currently impacting the Orange County Coast. The lawmakers ask for an investigation into the pipeline’s history of violations, causes of the spill, and any delays by federal officials in their response. The letter comes after media reports that officials may have known about the leak hours before it was made public. The members stressed the importance of accountability following the health, economic, and environmental damage already impacting the community.

“New reports state that federal officials may have known of this leak at least 10 hours before it was made public. This is concerning as prompt detection of a pipeline failure is essential to minimizing impacts to the community and our local ecosystems. We also have some major concerns with previous Federal inspections of the Amplify Energy Corp. / BETA Offshore oil operation that led to numerous federal violations,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.  

The members also highlighted the importance of transparency for Southern California residents.

“The citizens of Southern California deserve a fully transparent federal investigation that provides clear information to the public. This includes investigating the responsible party’s response to this tragic spill and the role of the federal government to promptly respond to protect coastal communities and wildlife,” the members wrote.

Reps. Darrell Issa (CA-50), Ken Calvert (CA-42), and Young Kim (CA-39) joined Rep. Steel in the letter.

You can read the full letter here and the text below: 

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

We write today in response to the Amplify Energy Corp. / BETA Offshore oil spill that occurred off the coast of Huntington Beach as early as October 1, 2021. New reports provide compelling evidence that the spill could have started earlier than reported. We as Members of Congress who represent Southern California demand that your Administration immediately open a full federal investigation into the pipeline’s history of violations, the causes of the spill, any failures or delays by federal officials to sufficiently respond to the spill as quickly as possible, and whether federal officials engaged in an effort to conceal these failures and delays.

New reports state that federal officials may have known of this leak at least 10 hours before it was made public. This is concerning as prompt detection of a pipeline failure is essential to minimizing impacts to the community and our local ecosystems. We also have major concerns that previous federal inspections of the Amplify Energy Corp. / BETA Offshore oil operation failed to identify incidents of negligence that possibly led to the spill. The citizens of Southern California deserve a fully transparent federal investigation that provides clear information to the public. This includes investigating the responsible party’s response to this tragic spill and the role the federal government to promptly respond to protect coastal communities and wildlife.

This incident has raised several concerns that we would like to share with you, and we ask that you provide more information on whether the federal government followed its Congressionally mandated role in ensuring that Amplify Energy Corp. had up to date response plans as well as determining if Amplify Energy Corp. followed federally mandated requirements for detection and notification of oil spills. We understand from media reports that the U.S. Coast Guard is now engaged in a criminal negligence investigation regarding the spill. We demand accountability about all required safety upgrades stemming from prior incidents and transparency regarding the current status of the investigation.

Constituents who live along the shoreline are already dealing with tar balls and strong odors. We are worried about long term health effects and regional economic damage. Our economy depends on the millions of tourists who visit Southern California daily. We are encouraged by officials already responding to protect sea life. Dead fish and birds are being reported on beaches and shorelines. We have serious concerns about the environmental impacts of the spill and applaud the workers who are doing their best to prevent the oil from hitting sensitive wetlands.

The citizens of Southern California deserve to know that operations happening offshore are safe and secure. Trust has been broken and accountability is required. We will continue to assist any way possible to help our constituents. Your Administration’s accountability and transparency will help make recovery possible and hopefully prevent any future spills.

We urge you to act expeditiously to provide accountability and transparency.

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