Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 16, 2021


Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 845-6703,

Biden Administration Rushes Forward on Likely Illegal Plan to Repair Pipeline Behind California Oil Spill

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is fast-tracking a likely illegal permit to repair a pipeline that recently spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil off the Southern California coast, according to leaked documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Corps seeks to authorize the work under a streamlined emergency permit intended only for repairs necessary to avoid an imminent threat — a move that could sidestep needed oversight and environmental review.

Repair work on the 41-year-old, 17-mile-long San Pedro Bay pipeline could begin as soon as Friday, according to an “agency notification” memo and application sent by the Corps on Wednesday to federal and state agencies. Amplify Energy’s planned repairs, which include replacing some pipe and putting 1,200 square feet of concrete mats on the ocean floor, could allow the pipeline to resume pumping oil early next year.

“Rushing to patch up this leak-prone pipeline puts the Southern California coast at risk of another oil spill,” said attorney Miyoko Sakashita, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Oceans campaign. “The Army Corps’ hasty endorsement of this flawed plan is an early Christmas present to a company that deserves a fat lump of coal for the harm it’s done to our wildlife and coastal communities. This dangerous pipeline should never be restarted, especially since it serves aging oil platforms that ought to have shut down years ago under the federal government’s own plans.”

A federal grand jury recently charged Amplify Energy and its subsidiaries with a misdemeanor count of illegally discharging oil in connection with the October spill.

The spill leaked about 25,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, closed miles of beaches and fisheries, and killed and injured birds and other wildlife. The spill came from a rupture in this pipeline, which runs from Platform Elly to Long Beach and services drilling platforms in the Beta oilfield in federal waters off California.

The Center filed a notice earlier this year of its intent to sue the federal government for allowing Platform Elly and other offshore oil production in the Beta oilfield to operate under outdated drilling plans written in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Federal regulators haven’t required updated drilling plans for the Beta field’s platforms — constructed in the early ‘80s — even though the plans indicated that the offshore platforms would wind down production in 2007 and be decommissioned more than a decade ago.

“The Biden administration’s rush to restart the pipeline is likely illegal, and it makes no sense given the danger posed by the aging platforms it services,” Sakashita said. “To prevent another spill and protect our climate, we need to get the oil industry’s dangerous infrastructure out of our oceans.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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