We’ve all seen the devastating images of oil spills, coating the ocean surface, marine life, and beaches in a toxic, sticky mess. But did you know there’s a whole different class of heavy “nonfloating” oils (ex. tar sands) which rapidly sink below the water column posing a significantly more harmful, costly and difficult clean up than surface spills?
Current oil spill planning and prevention focuses on floating oils but luckily, Assembly Member Robert Rivas has introduced AB 936– Oil Spill Response and Contingency Planning to fill a critical gap by addressing nonfloating oil. The legislation would establish a contingency plan for nonflaoting oil spills as well as help research and develop nonfloating oil cleanup methods, giving California the resources to better prevent, contain, and clean up these types of dangerous and hard-to-manage oil spills.
California is particularly at risk of a spill as it’s refining sector is one of three in the United States that is optimally geared for refining heavy oils. As California’s own heavy oil production has declined, refiners have turned to Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela to supply the heavy oil feedstocks that the state’s refineries were built to process. This means more oil is coming into the state via ocean tanker as foreign imports rise. AB 936 is designed to be a precautionary measure to protect our precious natural resources and iconic coastline.
In short, the bill would enhance planning for spills by:
- Establishing a new rating category of Oil Spill Response Organizations (OSRO’s) capable of addressing non floating oil and responding within 12 hours of a spill.
- Authorizing the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to conduct research and development of new technologies and strategies to address nonfloating oil spills.
- Requiring advance notice of transportation of nonfloating oil to ensure OSPR and California communities are aware.
- Raising the financial responsibility cap for tankers carrying non-floating oils from $1 billion to $10 billion.
AB 936 recently passed through the California Assembly and will soon be voted on by the CA State Senate.
Please call your senator to urge them to vote in favor of AB 936 to help protect California’s coast and ocean from dirty oil spills! It’s critical you make your voice heard TODAY.
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