Huntington Beach Disaster is Ugly, Sad Reminder: Offshore Drilling Risks are Real

LOS ANGELES – The massive oil spill off Huntington Beach this weekend tarred and killed birds, fish and other marine life, inundating sensitive wetlands and threatening ecosystems, the community and the local economy.  Officials have closed local beaches indefinitely in response to the underwater pipeline leak that spewed more than 126,000 gallons of crude oil. 

The following is a statement from Damon Nagami, senior attorney and director of Southern California ecosystems project for NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council): 

“Every spill begins with a lease sale.  And this kind of devastation—not to mention the climate crisis—should guide the Biden administration’s thinking as it makes decisions on leasing our federal waters.  A good first step would be cancelling the massive Gulf of Mexico lease sale that’s just weeks away.

“It is also time to crack down on the oil and gas industry here in California and beyond.

“This disaster proves that the risks are real.  And the costs are simply unacceptable.  

“It’s infuriating to see my childhood beach devastated this way.  This is a magical area—one of the country’s most diverse coastal ecosystems—and it angers me to think of whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals trying to swim through crude oil.

“This is a reminder that action can be taken in DC today to prevent events like this in the future. President Biden's Build Back Better Agenda is focused on clean energy infrastructure, as well as helping to address threats from mines and fossil fuel infrastructure that could foster future similar incidents.”

NRDC lawyers have worked on other catastrophic oil spills, including the Exxon Valdez, American Trader and BP Deepwater Horizon cases.  Our experience in these cases show that early estimates of damage from a large oil spill are usually a small fraction of the actual damage.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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