Renewable power plants can also cause environmental issues, as experts have highlighted with the pipeline leak off the coast of Orange County as an example of the ongoing damage caused by drilling, production and combustion. Even without the climate crisis, there are plenty of reasons to transition the global economy to solar and wind energy. Solar parks have destroyed the habitat used by desert turtles and other endangered species, while wind turbines kill birds. Lithium, a metal used in electric vehicle batteries and in solar energy storage, is mainly produced through processes that are destructive to the environment.
The recent oil spill off the coast revealed only part of the most significant pollution crisis facing Orange County beaches. While Southern California's beaches are the healthiest in the past two decades, the oil spill has brought attention to the fact that ocean pollution remains a threat. The Gulf of California stretches more than 900 miles and is home to diverse marine life, including many sharks, whales, fish and squid. Ocean pollution, such as beach garbage, marine debris, oil spills, and wastewater spills can have an extremely negative impact on the marine ecosystem and on humans living in coastal areas, such as Orange County.
Nonprofit environmental organizations, such as the Surfrider Foundation, have advocated for cleaner coastal areas. Founded in Malibu to protect oceans and beaches, Surfrider's executive director Chad Nelsen has been a strong supporter of preserving oceans and beaches, focusing on water quality and the sustainability of marine and coastal ecosystems. Recreational activities such as boating, swimming, surfing, sunbathing and picnicking travel along the coast. The fishing industry is often blamed for pollution but according to the California Coastal Commission only 20% of the garbage found in the ocean goes back to ocean sources such as commercial fishing boats or cargo ships. The other 80% comes from other sources such as beach garbage, industrial waste and garbage management.
There is increasing research on the fact that plastic waste is too small to be captured by current filters causing water treatment systems to discharge it. In early October an oil pipeline owned by Amplify Energy spilled approximately 25,000 gallons of oil into the ocean and beaches in Orange County. However this is not Orange County's first oil spill; according to the department oil in the water can be deadly to animals as it damages birds' feathers which could prevent them from flying or floating. Oil can also harm the fishing industry. Marine debris is “any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly intentionally or unintentionally disposed of or abandoned in the marine environment or the Great Lakes” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The administration also provided an estimate that Orange County residents could save millions of dollars by reducing marine debris. When wastewater from a waste treatment cycle overflows filters or spills into a body of water land or building this is called a wastewater spill.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 was the first major law in the United States to address water pollution when it was amended in 1972 it became commonly known as the Clean Water Act. When Congress debated this act they recognized that changes would be necessary once it went into effect so in 1977 it was amended once again and strengthened through legislation enacted giving authority to create a basic structure to regulate discharges of contaminants into U. S waters as well as controlling pumping of wastewater into waters. The Orange County Council on Marine Protected Areas protects areas from Crystal Cove to Dana Point with its mission being “to collaborate at a regional level to preserve and protect Orange County's marine protected areas through continuous improvements in research monitoring education outreach and compliance”. California's network of marine protected areas was redesigned in 1999 for the California Marine Life Protection Act with its aim being to improve recreational educational and research opportunities while subjecting marine ecosystems to minimal human disturbance. The campaign has been successful with participation from more than 63 countries making it “the largest and most powerful global coalition dedicated to ending marine plastic pollution”.
The Orange County Coastkeeper has vigorously lobbied for participation in management of Measure M Environmental Cleanup Fund which has resulted in all cities in Orange County working to install mosquito nets and inserts in storm drains to collect garbage. In addition oil spills are worryingly common with thousands occurring each year in United States; Martinez's experience is not unique in rural areas of California's Central Valley which contains 70% of state's oil operations. It seems that less oil was spilled than first estimates with minimum estimate now just over 25000 gallons in total meanwhile Biden administration has just scheduled huge oil and gas lease sale in Gulf of Mexico; all coastal habitats are considered clean of oil with telephone number and email address for reporting tar balls deactivated however catastrophic oil spill in Southern California over weekend was harsh reminder that damage to human health and natural world caused by supplying energy to society with fossil fuels is far greater than simply warming planet. Oil and gas companies operating in Orange County must take responsibility for their actions by implementing measures that reduce their environmental impact.
Companies should invest in renewable energy sources such as solar power or wind power instead of relying on fossil fuels. They should also invest in technologies that reduce their carbon footprint such as carbon capture technology or renewable energy storage systems. Companies should also invest in technologies that reduce their water usage such as water recycling systems or desalination plants. Finally companies should invest in technologies that reduce their waste output such as waste-to-energy systems or composting systems.
In addition companies should work with local environmental organizations such as Surfrider Foundation or Orange County Coastkeeper to ensure that their operations are compliant with local regulations. Companies should also work with local governments to ensure that their operations are not contributing to ocean pollution or beach garbage. Finally companies should work with local communities to ensure that their operations are not negatively impacting local wildlife or habitats. Oil and gas companies operating in Orange County must take responsibility for their actions by implementing measures that reduce their environmental impact if they want to remain competitive in today's market.
By investing in renewable energy sources, technologies that reduce their carbon footprint, water usage, and waste output they can ensure that they are doing their part to protect our environment.