Lawmakers set June 26 hearing on Refugio State Beach oil spill

Lawmakers set June 26 hearing on Refugio State Beach oil spill
Workers prepare an oil containment boom at Refugio State Beach after last month's oil spill north of Santa Barbara. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

The operator of a pipeline that spilled oil at Refugio State Beach will be on the hot seat when a new California legislative committee holds a public hearing on the accident later this month at the Santa Barbara County Administrative Building, officials said Tuesday.

The hearing, scheduled for June 26 at 2 p.m., was announced by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who is chairwoman of a new Senate select committee on the oil spill. About 21,000 gallons of oil went into the ocean after the pipeline ruptured May 19.

"We want to look to see why this incident happened and to make sure it doesn't happen again," Jackson said at a Capitol news conference,  joined by eight other lawmakers.

Plains All American Pipeline, whose ruptured pipeline created the oil spill, had assured the government that a leak was "extremely unlikely."

Jackson said she recently visited the site of the spill and saw sea life coated in oil. "To watch what happened to this pristine coastline was nothing less than gut-wrenching," she said.

Last week the lawmakers proposed legislation that would require annual pipeline inspections, quicker responses to leaks and better prevention technology, including the installation of pipeline shutoff valves.

In addition, the state Senate approved a bill last week that would ban new oil drilling operations in sensitive areas of the Tranquillon Ridge off Santa Barbara County's northern coast.

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