Under pressure to react to a recent oil spill off his House District’s shoreline, Rep. Michelle Steele on Tuesday proposed a temporary ban on idle vessels ashore, citing early reports that an anchor removed a failed pipeline. may have been given.
“This crisis could have been prevented and it is important that we protect our waters and coastline,” said Steele, of R-Seal Beach, whose 48th district covers much of coastal Orange County.
Marine experts say the steel proposal could increase costs and delays for shipping companies, lead to more air pollution and a greater risk of offshore accidents.
The Steel Stopping Hazards Incidents in the Pacific Act 2021 or the SHIP Act would ban cargo idling or anchoring within 24 nautical miles from the Orange County coast. The ban will be in effect immediately and for “180 days”, or until President Joe Biden announces an end to a port backlog that has stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic and caused a spike in ships waiting offshore.
Asked where the ships would anchor, Steele spokeswoman Danielle Stewart said via email, “anywhere that isn’t coastal Orange County.”
If ships are not allowed to be anchored or idle within 24 miles of the coastline, they will likely move or move very slowly in flowing water, says Steven D., professor of maritime transportation at Cal State’s Maritime Academy in Vallejo. . Brown said. .
“In good weather this probably won’t be a significant issue, although the ships will be burning more fuel and emitting more exhaust gases when operating offshore,” Brown said. “In rough weather, ships will most likely need to accelerate to better ride the waves and avoid drifting significant distances from ports.”
Brown noted, with designated traffic lanes, anchorages and radio reporting points, the ships’ traffic is well controlled and monitored.
“There is no traffic system beyond the coast,” he said. “It can get a bit chaotic as ships choose whatever location their captains like best. As a result, there can still be significant congestion issues, but in less regulated areas. “
Either way, Brown said, “it’s difficult to know whether such a ban would have prevented the oil spill because we don’t yet know the details of what caused it.”
In a press conference on October 8, U.S. Coast Guard investigators said they determined that a pipeline that leaked up to 131,000 gallons off the coast of Orange County earlier this month was pulled by the anchor of a large ship. month to year before, “causing it to overgrow and lose its protective solid covering. With that cover gone, investigators said the 13-inch crack may have been caused by corrosion or stress that had recently spread.
But that investigation is still in its early stages, the state Justice Department’s investigation announced Monday and the assembly hearing on the disaster is not scheduled to begin until November. Until the investigation is complete, US Sen. Alex Padilla said during a press conference on Monday that he believed it was too early to propose specific reforms.
Stewart, along with Steele’s office, said the ban on dormant ships is an “immediate response to a real-time problem.” He said more pipelines could be damaged as ships are stranded off the coast.
A report by the Pacific Maritime Association noted an unprecedented spike in volume in April 2020, following a dramatic drop in cargo arriving at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach at the start of the pandemic. Such swings have continued for months, with Port in Los Angeles setting a new record for volume in June.
Combine that rising but uneven demand, identified by the Pacific Maritime Association as “equipment shortages, capacity limits and logistical choke points throughout the supply chain”. And it all led to a massive backup of container ships waiting on the shores of Southern California to unload their cargo, which is causing supply chain issues across the country.
If those boats are running, Stewart said, there will be no backlog and local pipelines will not be at risk.
On Tuesday morning, a couple dozen of Steel’s critics – led by its Democratic rival in 2022, Harley Rouda – held a press conference outside its Huntington Beach office, calling for Steel to ban all offshore drilling . Local Democrats and some Republicans have called for such a ban for years and are increasing that push in the wake of the spread.
Steel has declined to give its position on offshore drilling. But it has supported the industry in the past, including taking donations from oil companies and investing in it – a fact Rouda highlighted in a new CA-48 campaign ad that references “slick” Michelle Steele.
Steele’s campaign, meanwhile, is criticizing Rauda for fundraising from the oil spill, citing his email on Saturday that references the disaster and solicits campaign contributions.