Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
As a supporter of WildCare and someone who cares about wildlife in California, I am writing to urge you to sign into law AB 234, legislation introduced by Assemblymember Jared Huffman requiring precautionary booms around fueling vessels in California's waterways.
As the effects of the Gulf Coast oil catastrophe continue to unfold, I am increasingly conscious of the risks to wildlife and the environment from oil in water. Fueling is a frequent and necessary part of shipping, but if we intend to protect San Francisco Bay and our rich coastal environments statewide, we must mandate this proven prevention measure for the predictable yet risky oil transfers in open waters.
Assemblymember Huffman's bill would require a protective boom to be placed around all fueling vessels. It would also require fuel transfer vessels to have appropriate equipment and supplies for the containment and removal of spilled oil in water adjacent to the transfer site. I support both of these measures and feel strongly that such precautions should be mandatory.
Current regulations do not require this level of precautionary prevention, so the possibility of oil into our sensitive waters rises with every fuel transfer. Fueling at Anchorage 9 in the San Francisco Bay is a routine process that happens over 800 times a year, but current laws mandate the deployment of personnel and boom equipment only in the event of a spill, and only within 30 minutes of the discovery of a spill.
Experience and data from Washington State, where pre-booming is required, demonstrates that 80% of oil is recovered when operations are pre-boomed, or a spill is boomed immediately. If the operation is not pre-boomed or boom is not readily available for immediate deployment then the recovery rate drops below 10%. California should follow Washington's lead to implement the highest standards for protecting our valuable and sensitive waterways.
When oil is spilled, every minute counts and pre- or immediate booming is the best line of defense. AB 234 will ensure that California has the equipment and trained personnel at the ready to respond immediately in the event of a spill during an oil-transfer operation.
Pre-booming is relatively inexpensive; it costs much more to clean up a spill than it does to prevent it from spreading in the first place. It is both economically and environmentally prudent to use the means we have available to prevent bunker fuel from spilling into our waters, and stop it as soon as possible when it does spill.
If we intend to protect San Francisco Bay and our rich coastal environment, we must mandate this proven prevention measure for the predictable, yet risky oil transfers in open waters.
Thank you for supporting environmental responsibility by signing this bill into law.