Can we make California the last oil spill?

A state of emergency has been declared in California after crews realized that the Rufugio Beach oil spill was five times worse than original estimates. This week, the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and dumped crude oil over a four-mile stretch of pristine California coastline.

Original estimates put that spill at around 21,000 gallons, but new calculations indicate that the real figure is well over 100,000 gallons. Crews continue to work furiously to remove contaminated sand and rescue oil-soaked wildlife, and the governor's office has closed the beaches surrounding that spill and put a ban on fishing.

Once again, our nation is watching the spill and clean up unfold. And once again, we learn that the company responsible has a long history of violating regulations and causing disasters.

According to a report over at Common Dreams, Plains All American has been responsible for 175 different spills since 2006, yet somehow they're still allowed to do business in our great nation. The oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity said, “This company's disturbing record highlights oil production's toxic threat to California's coast. Every new oil project increases the risk of fouled beaches and oil-soaked sea life.”

Over and over and over, oil and gas companies prove that they cannot be trusted to protect the public safety, and that there is no such thing as safe drilling or transport of this toxic sludge.

Today, the victims of this tragedy are California wildlife and residents, but tomorrow, who knows which of us could find ourselves dealing with the same fate.

We have the technology to make the transition away from dirty energy, but we have to stand up to the oil and gas companies that refuse to let go of their profits. The success of a corporation should never trump the safety of our people and our planet, and it shouldn't take another oil spill to make us recognize these risks.

Hopefully, the California coast line will bounce back quickly from this disaster. And hopefully, We, The People will decide that it will be the last.

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