Oil sheen contained in Talbert Channel near site of last year’s major O.C. pipeline spill in Kern County. (Credit: Ken Kremer)
A year ago, a massive leak of oil from an oil pipeline on the Mexico-Arizona border sent a plume of thick, sticky oil into Kern County’s Talbert Channel, killing two people and leaving dozens of others injured.
That spill, which spanned several days and was one of the largest on record in the U.S., killed thousands of birds, including those that were eating up the oil. That is the most serious spill that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ever responded to and the biggest in California.
The following story contains sensitive information that could be used to identify the source of the spill. The information is not intended to identify the source, and therefore should not be published.
This story is part of a monthly series called “In Our Backyard,” by InsideClimate News that examines how climate change is impacting California, and how communities and the state are adapting.
Kern County has become a hotbed in the ongoing battle over climate change science and policy. Since 2015, when a group of local farmers filed a lawsuit seeking a legal injunction to prevent the state from setting rules that would deny them water for irrigating their land, county leaders have fought to preserve its water, land, and wildlife.
In a move that has stunned everyone, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a so-called “Right to Know” bill last month that forces public school and college systems to disclose their data on how they are affecting the environment. Brown made the announcement just as the Trump administration was preparing to propose new federal limits on what types of pollution they will consider at risk of federal regulation.
California lawmakers are considering a far-reaching climate change bill that would make it easier for state government to step in to protect the environment from climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This legislation, called AB 32 by two Bay Area Democrat representatives, would give local governments the power to approve ordinances