Members of Congress to host hearing in Irvine – Orange County Register

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As questions continue to pile up about the oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach earlier this month, local Democrats who sit on key subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives will host a public hearing Monday in Irvine to investigate and take testimony on the impacts of the leak.

Reps. Katie Porter of Irvine, Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and Mike Levin of San Juan Capistrano will lead the session, which will be a joint hearing by the House Natural Resources’ subcommittees on Oversight and Investigations and on Energy and Mineral Resources. Porter chairs the oversight subcommittee, while Lowenthal chairs the energy subcommittee and Porter and Levin are members.

During the hearing, the 12 Democrats and nine Republicans who sit on these subcommittees will hear from witnesses about how the spill that leaked oil into coastal waters earlier this month has impacted local communities, businesses and the environment. The Congressional witness list was still being prepared Thursday morning.

This inquiry is one of several investigations now taking place around the oil spill.

Investigators say around 25,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from a pipeline connected to an offshore oil rig operated by Houston-based Amplify Energy via a subsidiary called Beta Offshore. The company says it learned about the leak the morning of Oct. 2, though reports of odors and oil in the water were made the night of Oct. 1.

Initial investigations found a 4,000-foot section of the pipeline had been moved out of place by more than 100 feet, with a 13-inch split found in the pipe. U.S. Coast Guard investigators said they believe a ship’s anchor struck the pipeline sometime within the last year, which likely dragged the pipe out of place and damaged a concrete casing around it. Later, it could have been struck again, or the pipe may have weakened or corroded and eventually cracked.

The U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are conducting a joint investigation into how the pipeline became displaced, why it cracked and who should be held responsible for the spill.

California’s Department of Justice on Monday announced it’s also working with local, state and federal authorities to investigate the spill, with both civil and criminal charges possible. And the state Assembly has created a special committee to look into the oil spill, with Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, appointed chair and hearings expected to start next month.

For Monday’s Congressional hearing, the public is invited to attend in person or to listen in online.

If you go

-Who: The public can listen in as House members and witnesses discuss impacts of the oil spill

-What: House Natural Resources’ subcommittee hearing titled “Southern California Oil Leak: Investigating the Immediate Effects on Communities, Businesses, and the Environment”

-When: 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 18

-Where: Irvine Ranch Water District at 15600 Sand Canyon Avenue in Irvine; interested viewers can also livestream the hearing on YouTube or on Facebook Live

Staff writer Alicia Robinson contributed to this report.

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