SACRAMENTO - Today, Assemblywoman Laurie Davies (R-Laguna Niguel) announced that at the start of the 2022 legislative session she will introduce legislation to close loopholes exploited by merchant and oil company ocean vessels when it comes to notifications of pipeline infrastructure in state waters.
“What happened in Orange County off our shores recently must never happen again, said Assemblywoman Davies. While investigations remain ongoing, what we do know is that a vessel in state waters dragged its anchor into a pipeline, damaged it, and simply never told any state or federal authorities. This is unacceptable, but completely permissible under our current system. That is the definition of flawed protocols. We must close this loophole and ensure that companies that do business in our state and use our waters respect our environment plus rule of law.”
In October 2021, as a result of a vessel drifting into state waters while anchored down, approximately 25,000 gallons of oil from a pipeline owned by Amplify Energy Corp. was released into the waters of Orange County. As has recently been reported, the operators of the vessel did not notify any state or federal agencies about the possibility of striking and damaging the pipeline. Had this been done or required by law, the ensuing oil spill could have been avoided.
The upcoming legislation will include the following provisions:
• A vessel that strikes or thinks they strike a pipeline in state waters shall notify several state and federal agencies including The CA Department of Conservation, The Coast Guard, The Office of State Fire Marshal, The Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration about the potential incident.
•Failure to provide this notification is subject to a civil penalty of up to $50,000. In addition, if the struck pipeline leaks oil, the individual is subject to an additional $1,000 fine for every 1,000 gallons of oil spilled.