Huntington Beach oil spill and the unsustainability of fossil fuels

By: Tina Le Oct. 12, 2021

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — On Oct. 3, the coastline of Huntington beach was contaminated with 126,000 gallons of crude oil, making it one of the biggest oil spills in California’s history. This catastrophe alone shows that the sooner we eliminate the fossil fuels industry, the better our environment will be. 

An unidentified animal was washed ashore after the oil incident. 
Photo from Unsplash

This disturbance affected many species’ habitats. Birds couldn’t fly from the oil on their feathers. Whales, dolphins, and other sea creatures have trouble breathing with the oil and are dying from swimming through the toxic substance. The effect is broader. The pollutant could enter the food chain, making seafood harmful for humans to eat. In response to the leak, government officials tried to use technology to solve the problem, just like they did in the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. Citizens noticed that if the officials had responded faster, the damage would not have been this tremendous. 

California has been taking damage from major oil leaks since three decades ago. In 1990, 417,000 gallons were spilled into Santa Barbara beach, killing thousands of fish and birds. In 2015, 143,000 gallons of oil surged into Refugio State Beach. Not to mention the Cosco Busan’s 55,000 gallons in 2007. The number might seem small, but its impact on the Bay Area’s habitat wasn’t. David Rapchun, a Huntington Beach resident, said in the Guardian, “For the amount of oil these things produce, I don’t think it’s worth the risk. We need oil, but there’s always a question, do we need it here?” 

A student at Silver Creek looking at the aftermath of the oil spill. 
Photo by Tina Le 

Meanwhile, Amplify Energy, the company that owns the pipeline, was fined $85,000 for three incidents in total. They have allegedly shut down and patched the pipeline. Amplify has been cited for environmental violations before. The cause of the spill remains unknown, and for now, locals are questioning whether they should transition to safer and cleaner energy sources, like solar power and windmills. 

The problem would be solved when we end drilling for fossil fuels. The evidence is clear that oil and gas are dangerous businesses with profound consequences. It’s not worth the risk of destroying our ocean and planet. In 1969, citizens boycotted oil companies. Back then, oil and gas were an accustomed source of energy. Now, companies have so many more options if they choose to change.

We’ve been changing the ecosystems, taking more resources than giving back. Jocelyn, a student at Silver Creek, expressed, “It is very tragic to see how the oil spill affected marine life in Huntington Beach. I wonder when we will finally take action and make a change. I couldn’t imagine the effects of a world without fish in the sea.” Because how many more beaches have to close? How many birds have to die for oil company profits? Technology cannot solve all our environmental problems. 

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