Mailbag: Oil leak off the coast wells up thoughts from readers

Fish swim under crude oil slicks at the Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach.
Fish swim under crude oil slicks at the Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach on Sunday, Oct. 3, after an offshore pipeline leaked oil off the coast of Orange County.
(Raul Roa)

Once again, Michelle Steel is sounding an alarm on an obvious crisis, and once again she is being ignored by her Democrat counterparts. Both Biden and Newsom are crickets on the matter. Huntington Beach is at a standstill because of a massive oil spill. Steel is asking for the obvious: one, that it be declared a disaster so we can save as much ecology as we can, and two, that the origins be investigated. Were the oil lines properly maintained? Is the theory that a ship anchor dragged through an oil line, correct? She is sounding the alarm, but there isn’t much action.

As someone who works directly with supply chains, I can posit that bottlenecks are where the worst mistakes happen. People try to compensate for lack of resources, and everyone is trying to speed things up, which is where some of the worst errors come from. The U.S. surrender in Afghanistan is proof enough of that.

In terms of this ecological disaster, there are two contributing bottlenecks. First, California’s special blends. Because California has a special blend of gasoline for its vehicles, only about four refineries in California can provide them. Our gasoline stations are legally required to only use those blends. That means we cannot rely on the support of out-of-state pipelines which leads to the need for more underwater pipelines like we have here. Obviously, oil spilling underwater is much more difficult to fix than oil spilling on land.

Second, there were dozens of cargo ships that have not been able to offload. This has limited the amount of water space for them to anchor and wait for the chance to unload. Of U.S. imports, 37% come from the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach. That means if the port cannot keep up with the flow, more ships are waiting. There are thousands of cargo containers, hundreds of trucks, and not a single rail line. We are subject to an adequate supply of truck drivers to be able to support offloading. A freight line would not only help traffic in Long Beach, but it would also allow for much quicker offloading of goods so the Coast Guard doesn’t have to figure out how to keep dozens of cargo ships three times the size of football fields from sinking or hitting gas lines or other underwater assets when they anchor.

This disaster is a chance for Republicans and Democrats to work together to get some solutions that make things better. Yet Michelle Steel’s call for action remains unheeded.

Samuel Braun
Fountain Valley

Good luck in getting Rep. Michelle Steel to support the offshore oil drilling ban proposed by environmentalists. She was elected in a Trumpian backlash to protect the special interests aligned with the former president. She has shown no interest in protecting the coastal environment of her district’s residents, and now, again, we are paying for it, much as we have with COVID-19 and other healthcare issues. Much as they did with the ineffective and tone-deaf representation of former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, partisan special interests have rallied to support Steel despite her lack of political juice in a Democrat-controlled Congress and her inattention to the best interests of her constituents. Her predecessor, former Rep. Harley Rouda, was clearly the better choice to protect our environment and get needed protections through Congress. Now we are left weak in both Washington D.C. and Sacramento. Voters in the 48th Congressional District must decide next year whether they want to continue to be the partisan puppets of outside special interests or the beneficiaries of true representation that works for the citizenry.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

As a former mayor of Huntington Beach, I am writing to let the community know the great work that this council and city staff has done during the oil spill. They put everything aside and concentrated on what the city was and is doing during a very difficult time. Not only are they facing a pandemic and a potential recall, they must continue to maintain a well-run city. Our parks, roads, libraries, senior center, police and fire departments, and financial obligations needed to be addressed, and at the same time oil slicks were ruining our wetlands and beaches. What did they do? When they heard that there was a danger that oil was leaking from a pipe running from one of the platforms off of Huntington Beach and would likely develop into a major spill, they didn’t wait to take action but had our emergency services put out boomers to keep the oil from seeping into areas such as the wetlands. City Manager Oliver Chi was directing all of these activities and putting in hours of work to coordinate these efforts.

After official notification was given the city became a part of a larger group of federal and state officials who were directing the major oil spill cleanup activities. They were a part of every meeting, and had two city meetings every day with all of our own local officials and staff who were also providing equipment and services to try and maintain the spill. Of course one of the major sites was our Wildlife Center which was treating injured wildlife which had been trapped in the spill. These were 24-hour days.

At the same time critics of the council were spewing out misinformation as to the work the council was doing in hopes of turning members’ efforts into a political fight. It was a shameful demonstration of people who would go to any lengths to try and find something that was wrong, instead of recognizing what was really happening. Let’s be glad that we have a council who had the courage to do what was needed and did not respond to the untruths.

Shirley Dettloff
Former Huntington Beach mayor
Founding member, Amigos de Bolsa Chica

The environmental and community impact caused by last week’s oil spill was devastating. But this begs the question, what was a ship headed for the port of Los Angeles doing in Huntington Beach? The economic policies implemented by not only the Democratic leadership of Southern California but also the top officials of the California DNC have caused the port of Los Angeles to become backlogged with over 73 ships simultaneously waiting to dock last month. This backlog has given ships no choice but to anchor up and down the coast of California and wait for entry into the port. And unfortunately, one of these anchored ships caused this devastating oil spill.

Even though this oil spill only affected the area surrounding Orange County, these port backlogs are not an isolated issue. Strict COVID-19 restrictions implemented by California Democrats have caused the ports of California which are the lifeblood of California’s economy to suddenly cease operations.

Ryan Weiss
Dana Point
Intern for Michelle Steel for Congress

Opposing the H.B. council recall

The effort to recall five duly elected City Council members in Huntington Beach is nearly as absurd as the current action in Hood County, Texas (where Trump beat Biden by 64 points), in which the director of elections was removed because she ratified the count.

The recall attempt is a straight-up racist stunt which commenced less than 24 hours after the five council members appointed the city’s first Black council member.

The action was duly authorized by the city’s charter, and the flimsy claims of the recall folks that it ignored the will of the people last November would be laughable if they were not so dangerous to the city of Huntington Beach.

I stand with all the sane citizens of Huntington Beach in opposing the recall.

Mark W. Dixon
Huntington Beach

No need to elect N.B. mayor

In response to Jordan Wachter’s letter to the editor that appeared in the Sunday, Oct. 10 print edition of the Daily Pilot, he references that time period when our City Charter was drafted as a time when our city was composed of very different communities. He further justifies his position on the proposed mayoral initiative stating that our city has become more unified than ever, and that the council electing a mayor each year is a detriment. I am having difficulty pulling this disjointed reasoning together. If, in fact, our city has become more homogenous (which it has not), how does this create a detriment in the mayor coming from the council each year as opposed to an elected mayor from one district of the city for a potential eight years? Doesn’t it make more sense to keep things the way they are — the potential for the mayor position to be rotated each year amongst districts? This provides each district the opportunity to be placed in a priority position for an entire calendar year.

So, back to Wachter’s reasoning. Over the years our city has grown geographically as well as in population. Entirely new areas of our city exist now as compared to when the City Charter was approved by voters. We are no longer a small beach town. We now have distinctly different neighborhoods, villages and areas, with each having their own unique needs. It could not be more appropriate or important that each of these areas be represented on City Council. Just ask how the good folks who live in Newport Coast, for example, feel or even care about rising sea level, seawall extension, or the eucalyptus trees on Balboa Island’s Marine Avenue. And how do the people who live in Eastbluff or Santa Ana Heights feel about a community center in West Newport? And what about Mariner’s Mile? Do the people in Spyglass or Harbor View consider this a priority over the needs in their area? Those areas of our city that border the water have completely different needs and concerns than those inland. As a result, a voice in the form representation becomes critical. Wachter’s justification for an elected mayor just doesn’t make sense.

Jeff Herdman
Former Newport Beach councilman

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