Let’s put this in perspective: The fine levied by Judge James Herman against Plains All-American Pipeline, based in Houston, for the 2015 Refugio oil spill was $3.3 million. Plains’ revenue during the last quarter was $8.79 billion. That comes out to more than $4 million per hour. In one hour, Plains made more money than that measly fine. It’s like a parking ticket to you and me.
According to Judge Herman, the $3.3.million fine was the largest allowed by law, despite the $1.2 billion the prosecutors requested to cover losses for cleanup, fisheries, commercial and recreational boating, tourism, and the layoffs of oil workers due to shutting down the pipeline. Even the judge questioned whether the fine was enough to discourage future spills on our coastline.
Do we wonder why oil companies and ancillary businesses continue to target Santa Barbara County, thinking they can get away with shoddy inspections or complete lack thereof, as was documented in the case against Plains, who allowed their pipeline to become so corroded that it split and leaked onto our precious coastline and waters?
Clearly, the law is on the side of the corporations, and as long as we are subject to the oligarchy that is running this country, the law will not change.
Plains has applied to build a new pipeline in Santa Barbara. If you think we should trust them and our regulatory agencies to be accountable, think again.