Oil Pipeline Leak off The Coast of California


Mary Schroeder, Writer

On October 3rd, 2021, there was a massive oil spill in the pacific ocean off the coast of California. A breach in the oil pipeline sent 126,000 gallons of oil into the ocean. 


The effect on wildlife is catastrophic. 

When a bird comes into contact with oil, it loses its ability to repel water and keep dry using its feathers. When birds and other marine mammals lose this insulating ability, they suffer from hypothermia and die. When a bird is cold, its first instinct is to get to land and warm up. Due to the oil spill, mass amounts of birds are coming to coastlines in California covered in oil. This makes their first priority to clean-up operators. 

Thousands of marine animals die of oil spills, and the water stays toxic, which affects future generations of animals living in the area of the spill. Not only does this affect every fish, but it also affects coral reefs, which California has many of. Coral reefs are vital to marine life, as they provide habitats and shelter for various sea creatures. Destroying a coral reef would be destroying a whole ecosystem. 

When oil comes in contact with coral, the coral either dies or loses its ability to reproduce and photosynthesize. It also reduces the amount of sunlight that can reach these corals. Both of these things make it impossible for any remaining corals to revive its reef and harbor life for remaining marine animals. 


The United States’ dependence on oil should be replaced with renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Fifty percent of all oil in the US is used in motor vehicles. Widespread production and use of electric cars would ease our reliance on oil. This would lower the chances of such catastrophic events as oil spills. The oil industry does not want electric cars to succeed and fights the building of country-wide charging stations. Our politicians must fight these companies and put the needs and safety of the environment over those of big business. Sources of renewable energy should be explored so we are not depleting our natural resources and continually drilling for oil. Harnessing sunlight, wind, and waves can produce energy that would lessen the United States’ reliance on oil. 


Oversight of pipeline safety and security should be a higher priority.

Oil pipeline leaks are not uncommon. Oil pipelines and platforms are subject to elements and corrosion. Aging oil equipment should be inspected regularly and replaced if needed. They believe that a ship’s anchor may have snatched onto the pipeline and caused a leak into the ocean. Shipping companies should be required to know the placement of oil pipelines and their depths so that this type of incident should be avoided. Government oversight of this industry is key.