California: Masters of Disasters

California may not have any cash to spend, but it has plenty of expertise when it comes to disasters like oil spills. 

That’s why Gov. Jerry Brown agreed today to send a team of oil spill specialists to Montana to deal with with an oil pipeline break that is fouling the Yellowstone River.

It’s a little-known unit within the Department of Fish and Game that was put together following the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill in Alaska.  It got involved in some heavy lifting last year following the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We deployed 70 Fish and Game personnel last year to the Deepwater Horizon spill,” said Scott Schaefer, who runs the Office of Spill Prevention and Response.
The Montana team will be made up of five specialists.
California’s history with oil spill disasters pre-dates even Gov. Brown. Until it was eclipsed by the Gulf spill, the worst oil spill in the nation’s history happened in January of 1969 in the Santa Barbara Channel. 
A Union Oil platform blew out, sending an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude into coastal waters before it was finally capped. 
That disaster mobilized today’s modern environmental protection movement.
The Yellowstone disaster is small by comparison, at an estimated 1,000 barrels of oil. 
Whatever the scope, the governor’s decision today is a reminder that disaster is what California knows well. And yes, his office says the state’s bill will be paid by the federal government under terms of a mutual aid agreement.
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