featured graphic for Michelle Steel, Congresswoman for California’s 48th District, after COVID-19

Rep. Steel demands accountability from Amplify Energy following oil leak

Today Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) sent a letter to Martyn Willsher, the CEO of Amplify Energy, demanding the company’s cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) on continued cleanup efforts, and that they take responsibility for any ongoing financial burden on the Orange County community. The letter comes following reports that it took Amplify Energy more than three hours to shut off the pipeline after they were notified of a potential problem on October 2, 2021.

“The Oil Pollution Act provides the Federal authority to respond to catastrophic oil spills, monitor the response efforts of the responsible party, or direct the responsible party’s cleanup activities,” Rep. Steel wrote. “Under Federal law, it is Amplify Energy’s responsibility to cover all response costs incurred by the Federal Government. Amplify Energy is also required by Federal law to cover expenses related to natural resource damages including the cost of restoring, rehabilitating, replacing, or acquiring the equivalent of the resource.”

“I have major concerns regarding when Amplify Energy first learned of the spill and when you shut off the pipeline. Reports suggest it took nearly four hours from the first alarm until Amplify Energy shut it down,” Rep. Steel wrote. “I am also concerned with previous inspections of Amplify Energy that led to numerous Federal violations. It is imperative that you are fully transparent with Federal investigators and provide clear information to the public.”

Earlier this week Rep. Steel led members of the Southern California Congressional Delegation in a letter to President Biden demanding a Federal investigation into the oil spill. The lawmakers asked for an investigation into the pipeline’s history of violations, causes of the spill, and any delays by federal officials in their response.

You can read the full letter below.

This article was released by the Office of Representative Michelle Steel.
Martyn Willsher
President and Chief Executive Officer
Amplify Energy Corp
500 Dallas Street, Suite 1700
Houston, TX 77002

Dear Mr. Willsher:

I write to you today as Orange County’s coastline continues to battle the aftereffects of a devastating oil spill caused by a leak in one of your pipelines. I proudly represent Southern California and our world-famous coastline and am heartbroken to see the oil washing up on shore, harming our wildlife and closing our beaches. Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA, P.L. 101-380), I am demanding your cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) on continued cleanup efforts, and your responsibility for any ongoing financial burden. The OPA provides the Federal authority to respond to catastrophic oil spills, monitor the response efforts of the responsible party, or direct the responsible party’s cleanup activities. The USCG has response authority in the U.S. coastal zone and will determine the level of cleanup required. Although Federal resources are actively being deployed, we strongly urge you to cover the financial cost associated with your oil spill.

Under Federal law, it is Amplify Energy’s responsibility to cover all response costs incurred by the Federal Government. Amplify Energy is also required by Federal law to cover expenses related to natural resource damages including the cost of restoring, rehabilitating, replacing, or acquiring the equivalent of the resource. Economic damages are also allowed including personal property damage and lost profits or earning capacity for businesses. There are also damages for net costs borne by states and local government.

I have major concerns regarding when Amplify Energy first learned of the spill and when you shut off the pipeline. Reports suggest it took nearly four hours from the first alarm until Amplify Energy shut it down. I am also concerned with previous inspections of Amplify Energy that led to numerous Federal violations. It is imperative that you are fully transparent with Federal investigators and provide clear information to the public. This includes providing the company’s response to this tragic spill – your oil spill response plans, your requirement for detection and notification of oil spills, and about any safety upgrades stemming from your company’s prior incidents. The citizens of Southern California deserve to know that operations happing offshore are safe and secure. Trust has been broken and accountability is required.

Federal, State, and Local officials have been working around the clock to protect residents, the shoreline, and wildlife. Southern California needs your full cooperation to assist in recovery efforts. As we speak at least 127 acres of marshes in the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy are dealing with effects of your spill. One of those is the Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach, which is an important refuge for over 90 species of shorebirds. Millions of dollars have gone into restoring the wetlands and now they are now devastated. Approximately 5,0000 gallons of oil have been recovered from the water and 5,360 feet of boom has been deployed. Beaches and public harbors from Huntington to Dana Point have been forced to close for public safety. Fishing is now prohibited and all of these things play a key role in the community.

Constituents who live along the shoreline are already dealing with tar balls and strong odors. I worried about long term health effects. I am encouraged by officials already responding to protect sea life. Dead fish and birds are already being reported on beaches and shorelines. I have serious concerns about the environmental impacts of the spill and applaud the workers who are doing their best to prevent the oil from hitting sensitive wetlands.

I thank the Coast Guard for their command and leadership in the last few days. I will continue to assist any way possible to help our constituents. Your accountability and providing of immediate resources will help make recovery for our community possible.

1 Comment

  1. The demands from Rep. Steel and other local/state/Federal representatives are nothing
    more than a grandstanding trick that politicians use to make us think they are doing
    something. After first blaming the well/pipeline operator for the spill we now have
    the news media chasing container ships along the west coast to see which one may
    have snagged the pipeline with an anchor. Are underwater pipelines depicted on navigation
    charts to allow ships to avoid anchoring in the area of a pipeline? Probably not.
    The photos or representations of the pipeline underwater with an unexplained curve
    in it were pathetic, maybe presented that way on purpose to disguise the real technology.
    If we determine that a ship’s anchor did displace the pipeline is the chorus of politicians
    that want to ban offshore drilling going to change their demand to banning container ships?
    The politicians should spend their energy getting Federal funds to compensate people and
    businesses that were impacted by the spill and to clean it up. I’m sure the governor will
    find a way to waste our tax money on a BS project related to the spill that really does
    not accomplish anything and just becomes another ego-trip glory project for Newsom.

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