Learning From Our Mistakes
It has been an emotional experience, standing on Refugio State Beach, overwhelmed and nauseated by the stench and facing the damage that crude oil has once again caused to our precious coastline. It’s not like we haven’t been here before. But somehow each time oil befouls a treasured beach or I see the dark sheen of oil floating toward the horizon, it hits me like a fresh punch.
I can’t help but ask myself, why can’t we learn from our past mistakes?
Of course, each disaster is unique and there are questions that we need answers to in order to start to understand what went wrong with this Plains All American Pipeline disaster. Questions which must include: What caused the pipeline to rupture? Why such a limited offshore response in the first hours of the disaster? And why didn’t this relatively new pipeline shut down automatically? But while yes, each oil disaster is unique; it is never in fact surprising. Whether we are talking about a pipeline, a well bore, a train or tanker, a refinery or an offshore platform, we need to know that we are talking about incredible risk. There is no pipeline that cannot break, just as there is no train or tanker impervious to damage.
Over the five years that have passed since Deepwater Horizon or even the 46 years that have passed since the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, we have had many chances to change course, to prioritize the protection of communities and our environment and to begin to move away from oil. The looming shadow of catastrophic climate disruption gives us even more reason to act. But instead, we find that we need to learn this lesson again, and again, and again.
So what can we do? At EDC we have been fighting offshore and onshore oil projects for close to 40 years. We have stopped some projects, terminated some leases, and influenced policy and regulations. The best that we can do, however, to avert this type of disaster is to say “no” to more oil drilling. We need to say “no” to the Sunset/Exxon proposal to drill offshore Vandenberg and we need to say “no” to Venoco’s proposal to expand oil development from Platform Holly.
More immediately, here is what you can do:
- To report oiled wildlife contact: UC Davis Wildlife Care Network 877-823-6926
- To get more information on volunteering visit: Cal Spill Watch
- Please do not rush up to Refugio State Beach and do not try to clean up the oil or rescue wildlife. Please stay clear and allow the professional response teams to work safely.
- For more updates you can visit Plains.update.com and follow EDC on Twitter and Facebook.
- Take a look at the photos of the spill we have shared, taken by Erin Feinblatt.
My thoughts are with the whales and with the emergency crews putting themselves at risk to clean oil off our coastline once again.
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