Today Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) announced the introduction of the Stopping Hazardous Incidents in the Pacific Act of 2021 (SHIP Act), legislation that will ban cargo ships from idling or anchoring in the coastal waters of Southern California. This legislation was authored following the devastating oil spill that has affected the Orange County coastline for more than a week. Reports continue to show that this spill, the largest in the region in more than three decades, may have occurred due to an anchor or chain of a vessel hitting the pipeline and dragging it along the seafloor. The pipe “may also have been struck several other times by other ships’ anchors,” according to the latest reporting.
The SHIP Act would ban cargo idling or anchoring 24 nautical miles off the Orange County coast. This ban would take effect immediately for up to 180 days, or until the President declares the backlog in the ports is over.
“Cargo ships idling for months off the Orange County coastline have become an environmental and public health crisis. It’s time to get the ports working again and get these ships moving and out of our waters. This crisis could have been prevented and it’s important that we protect our waters and coastline,” said Rep. Steel.
Rep. Steel has been leading on solutions in response to the oil spill since learning of the crisis. In the last week she has:
- Sent a letter to President Biden requesting a Major Disaster Declaration for Orange County
- Joined the U.S. Coast Guard for an aerial tour of the spill
- Hosted a conference call with local elected officials, organizations, and the U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander to get an update on the spill and next steps
- Sent a letter to Governor Newsom urging him to formally request a Major Disaster Declaration from the Biden Administration
- Sent a letter to President Biden requesting a federal investigation into the spill, this was shared with the entire CA delegation for signature before sending
- Demanded responsibility from Amplify Energy in paying for recovery and response costs, and urging cooperation with the Coast Guard