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Linda Krop’s Testimony at the Plains All American Sentencing Hearing

April 25, 2019

Today, the Environmental Defense Center’s Chief Counsel, Linda Krop, testified as a witness at the sentencing hearing in the Plains All American Pipeline criminal trial in Santa Barbara Superior Court. The Environmental Defense Center was the only environmental group that testified. Below is the testimony that Ms. Krop delivered in Judge James Herman’s courtroom.
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PLAINS ALL AMERICAN SENTENCING HEARING [COUNTY OF SANTA BARBARA V. PLAINS]
LINDA KROP TESTIMONY

Good morning, your honor.  I am Linda Krop, Chief Counsel of the Environmental Defense Center, a public interest environmental law firm headquartered in Santa Barbara.  The EDC was formed as a direct result of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and has worked for more than forty years to protect our coast from the risks and impacts of offshore and onshore oil and gas development.

I and other members of our organization went to Refugio on the first day of the Plains All American pipeline oil spill.  We were stunned by the overwhelming stench of crude oil and the site of the beach covered in thick, gooey oil. 

As you know the Plains oil spill caused tremendous damage to much of the California coast, spreading all the way from Refugio State Beach Park to beaches more than150 miles away in Orange County. The spill killed hundreds of marine mammals, fish, birds, and other wildlife, and destroyed sensitive habitats both onshore and offshore.  The spill had a devastating impact on the environment and the lives of those who care about the health of our coastal and marine ecosystems.

According to the Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustee agencies, the spill and response activities impacted the natural resources of the Pacific Ocean and its adjoining shorelines, and impaired the services which those resources provide.

Specifically, the oil spill caused damage to sandy beach and dune habitats, marine protected areas, seagrass and kelp beds, rocky intertidal habitats, subtidal habitats, and other habitats that are critical to the function of our unique coastal environment.  In fact, the affected region is so important biologically that it has been dubbed the Galapagos of North America.  These resources also provide local food and support vibrant recreation, academic, research, and tourism.

The Natural Resource Damage Assessment process has also revealed that the response and cleanup actions were inadequate to remediate the harm from the oil spill.  We will never know the full extent of the damage because it is impossible to clean up an offshore oil spill.  What we do know is that the effects will be long lasting and will never be fully mitigated. 

Had Plains properly maintained the pipeline, had Plains responded to the change in pressure in the line immediately, and had Plains reported the spill in a timely manner, the damage could have been completely avoided or at least vastly decreased.  More than 150 miles of the coast and marine environment would have been spared such devastating harm.  Instead, Plains’ callous disregard of the obvious risks on Lines 901 and 903 will impact the environment and our community long into the future.

For these reasons, Plains must be held fully accountable.

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