Contrary to Greenie narrative, not every oil spill is man-made...

When an offshore spill occurs in the oil industry, the mainstream media visuals most remembered are oil slicks, oiled waterfowl, and contaminated sea mammals.  How often have you seen similar visuals from the effects of natural oil seeps?  One of the most notable onshore oil seeps is the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles.  Do you know how many oil deposits are discovered?  Geologists map subsurface geology from a natural surface seep to a likely low point or reservoir.  Some deep offshore locations have asphalt volcanoes that have been discovered only over the past two decades.  The National Academy of Sciences, formed through congressional charter signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, states that natural oil seeps account for 46% of the load to the world's oceans.

In January 1969, a Unocal offshore platform accident occurred six miles off the coast of Santa Barbara.  The high-end estimated oil spill volume was 4.2 million gallons.  Santa Barbara oil production began in the late 19th century in Summerland.  At the turn of the 20th century, California was the largest oil-producing state in the nation.  The Unocal spill became the battle cry of environmentalists to stop offshore oil and gas development in California, as Earth Day and President Richard Nixon's National Environmental Policy Act, which caused the formation of the EPA, were formulated.

I spent high school and college summers at Huntington Beach in Southern California when I was not working to earn my degree.  It was a bit disconcerting coming out of the water with tar balls stuck to my feet.  I remember that the "pumpjacks" or "grasshopper" pumped oil wells near Pacific Coast Highway and along State Highway 39 (Beach Boulevard).  An earlier-generation Californian told me about using gasoline to clean the soles of his feet from tar balls at Santa Monica beach in the 1940s through 1960s.  Do you remember the pumpjacks behind Hollywood Park racetrack? 

Nearly 20 years after Unocal, on Good Friday 1989, Captain Joseph Hazelwood carelessly guided the Exxon-Valdez into Bligh Reef, Alaska, spilling an estimated 10.8 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound.  Again, we saw the upsetting visuals of that spill.  Many of my colleagues participated in the cleanup, while I continued to work in Anchorage.

The biggest oil spill tragedy in U.S. waters was the Deepwater Horizon blowout in April 2010.  I was in the South Gobi desert of Mongolia then.  I read that President Obama's team exacerbated the problem, causing an estimated 210-million-gallon spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

The ocean is very forgiving.  It "self-cleanses" the effects of hydrocarbon releases.  Shoreline flora impacts are longer lasting.  Did you know that there is an estimated five (5) million gallons of oil leaking into the Pacific Ocean annually through natural seeps?  That is more than the 1969 Unocal event and almost half of the Exxon-Valdez spill.  In the Gulf of Mexico, there are over 600 natural oil seeps that leak anywhere from 42 million to 210 million gallons of oil a year.  Who is responsible for this attack on the environment?  Blame it on Mother Nature!

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Office of Response and Restoration in a brief that they published in May 2015, natural oil seeps of up to 25,000 gallons per day discharge into the waters of Southern California, mostly offshore Santa Barbara.  If there were not any extraction of oil, the natural seeps would likely inject more oil into the ocean. 

There is a huge difference between the shallow, pressure-relieving wells to extract offshore California oil and the much deeper wells in the Gulf of Mexico.  The mixing zones for dilution of oil from natural seeps and eventual microbial degradation are much larger in the Gulf of Mexico, hence more forgiving.  Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation in September 2018 blocking President Trump's aim to increase offshore California oil and gas production.  Thank Brown, environmentalists, for the continued natural pollution of oil along California's coast.

The next time you go out on the Pacific Ocean and see an oil sheen, think twice about its origin.  Ask your local journalist how much he knows about "natural oil spills" into the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Image credit: Sgt. Adrian Cadiz, U.S. Air Force, public domain.