Press Releases

Rep. Porter Chairs Hearing, Holds Listening Session in Orange County on Major Oil Leak

Congresswoman unveiled new data showing that owner of leaking pipeline received $20 million in taxpayer subsidies

IRVINE—Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45), Chair of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, led a hearing on the major oil leak off the coast of Orange County. The hearing, titled “Southern California Oil Leak: Investigating the Immediate Effects on Communities, Businesses, and the Environment,” took place in Irvine, California, and was immediately followed by a listening session in which Porter heard directly from members of the community.

“Understanding the damage caused by the recent major oil leak is essential to getting relief to those who need it—and to holding the responsible party accountable,” said Rep. Porter. “Today’s hearing was about centering the community that’s been hurt by this disaster and laying the groundwork for additional actions Congress might take. We now know that the owner of the leaking pipeline received nearly $20 million in taxpayer subsidies to continue drilling in the Pacific Ocean even though it wasn’t profitable. I still have questions, and my Subcommittee will continue its investigation until Orange County families get the answers they deserve.”

During today’s hearing, Rep. Porter revealed new data from the Department of Interior showing that Beta Operating, the company that owns the platforms and the pipeline that leaked oil off Southern California’s coast, received $19.67 million in taxpayer-funded royalty relief to incentivize pulling oil out of old wells in federal waters. Beta Operating is also in line to receive another $11 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies to incentivize pulling oil out of wells known to be unprofitable. Beta Operating is a subsidiary of Amplify Energy. 

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Chair of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, helped lead the hearing. Representatives Mike Levin (CA-49) and Sara Jacobs (CA-53) also participated.

Lawmakers heard witness testimony about the environmental and economic harms caused by the major oil leak from:

  • Dr. Michael Ziccardi, Director, Oiled Wildlife Care Network; and Executive Director, One Health Institute, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis,
  • Mr. Scott Breneman, West Caught Fish Company, Newport Beach, CA,
  • Mr. Vipe Desai, Founding Member, Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast, and
  • Dr. David Valentine, Norris Presidential Chair in Earth Science and Professor of Marine Science, University of California, Santa Barbara.

A recording of today’s hearing can be watched HERE.

Rep. Porter has been a consistent advocate for environmental protection and holding polluters accountable. In March, she reintroduced the Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act, which would raise fees on polluters extracting from public lands. Later that month, she helped spearhead legislation to eliminate 11 special tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. In May, as Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Porter invited three oil and gas CEOs to testify about how their companies spend taxpayer dollars, but all three refused to speak before the Subcommittee.