California is now a leader in preparing for a “nonfloating” oil disaster, thanks to Governor Gavin Newsom signing AB 936 (Rivas)– Oil Spill Response and Contingency Planning, into law. This legislation will establish a contingency plan for spills as well as help research and develop cleanup methods, taking necessary precautionary measures to protect our precious natural resources and iconic coastline.
Unlike surface spills, “nonfloating” oils rapidly sink below the water column posing a significantly more harmful, costly and difficult clean up. California is particularly at risk of a spill as its 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.
Surfrider Foundation was among three dozen other environmental organizations advocating for the legislature to pass AB 936 and for Governor Newsom to sign it once passed. A number of business owners, part of our coastal business alliance, also voiced their support, as their livelihood would be impacted by a potential spill.
Although we are pleased to have cleanup preparation measures in place, we hope they never become necessary. For the good of our ocean and the future of our planet, California needs to move towards transitioning away from oil altogether.
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