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Huntington Beach Oil Spill – Reputation Management and Environment Will Need Cleaning Up
Syracuse University professors Erika Schneider and Linda Ivany provide thoughtful commentary on the oil spill impacting the coast of Orange County, California. Both are available for interviews and additional questions as this story evolves.
Erika Schneider is a public relations scholar who specializes in strategic communication with an emphasis on crisis communication at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications.
“Environmental crises with ecological impacts of this magnitude require the company to create a direct line of communication with the public. We have heard statements from leadership that help us understand how the spill is being contained but lack information that addresses the company’s responsibility and specific recovery efforts. With this level of urgency, time is not on Amplify’s side.
“As we’ve also seen with similar crises, having pre-established relationships with community partners, authorities, and environmental groups would have helped to facilitate a more efficient response. Since a formal investigation may take weeks and clean-up potentially taking years, there is still time for Amplify to transparently address their contribution to the event and how they are doing everything in their power to mitigate the damage.
“When a company like Amplify consistently iterates a commitment to safely operating in a way that protects the environment yet contributes to an environmental disaster, they face condemnation not only from environmentalists, but anyone reading these headlines. It creates a demand for information in the search for who or what is to blame, the impact, and a broader conversation about pipeline regulations, as continual leaks and ruptures may illustrate a lack thereof.”
Linda Ivany is a professor at Syracuse University whose research focuses on relationships among ecology, evolution, and environment.
Professor Ivany says:
“The oil spill off Huntington Beach is a predictable consequence of the aging infrastructure associated with hydrocarbon extraction along the California coastline. While the current spill is small compared to what might result from a tanker accident, significant leaks from pipelines (like this appears to be) are likely to become more common in the future and contribute progressively more to the volume of oil inadvertently released into natural habitats each year.
“Minor occasional leakage offshore is likely to be broken down through natural decomposition processes in the ocean and not have major impacts, but the greater the volume released over short intervals of time, the bigger the problems that result. Any oil that makes it to nearshore settings, where wildlife is abundant, can be seriously damaging. Birds and mammals especially suffer because the oil coats their feathers and fur, making them lose buoyancy and insulation and often causing death even independent of any toxic effects associated with ingestion. Oil ends up in the food chain as well, contaminating food sources and causing problems for plankton, fish, and shellfish. Depending on the type of oil, it can get into the sediments and stay in the environment for many years.
“Accidents like this one are a direct consequence of our fossil-fuel-based economy. The sooner we can transition to alternative energy sources, the fewer of these kinds of attention-grabbing accidents we will have, but even more importantly, the sooner we will be able to scale back on CO2 emissions and hence limit the slower, but much more impactful and far-reaching consequences of climate warming.”
To schedule an interview please reach out to Daryl Lovell, media relations manager, by email at email@example.com or by phone at 315.380.0206