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Workers search for oil in the sand at the northern end of Huntington Beach, California, on Oct. 5. Photo: Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The devastating oil spill off the coast of Southern California occurred after an underwater pipeline was split open and dragged along the ocean floor, potentially by a ship's anchor, officials said Tuesday, AP reports.

Why it matters: Earlier Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency due to the oil spill, which is believed to have dumped 127,000 gallons of oil into the ocean and closed a number of beaches.

  • Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr told reporters the oil spill was an "environmental catastrophe."
  • The spill is among the largest in recent California history and has devastated wildlife and contaminated several popular beaches.

The big picture: Coast Guard officials said that the Amplify Energy pipeline had a gash in it over a foot wide and that it had been dragged more than 100 feet, AP reports.

  • The damage may have been “caused by an anchor that hooked the pipeline, causing a partial tear,” officials said, per AP.

Between the lines: While vessels aren’t supposed to anchor on a pipeline, an unusually large number of cargo ships are waiting off the coast of Huntington Beach to get into the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, causing congestion amid a supply chain crunch. 

  • This could be a contributing factor to the disaster, notes Axios’ Andrew Freedman.

Of note: The full toll on wildlife is not yet known, but the region from Laguna Beach north to Huntington Beach is home to seals, whales, dolphins and birds, among other species.

Go deeper: In photos: Oil spill threatens Southern California shores

Go deeper

California wildfire jumps major highway as blaze swells to 13,400 acres

Firefighters from Los Padres National Forest monitor the Alisal Fire as it moves into Refugio Canyon, California, on Tuesday. Photo: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

About 100 Central California properties and a shuttered oil refinery were under threat overnight from a rapidly growing wildfire that forced the closure of a major highway near Santa Barbara, per the Los Angeles Times.

The big picture: The Alisal Fire that ignited near the Alisal Reservoir on Monday has grown to 13,400 acres with 5% containment, officials said. Nearly 800 firefighters are now battling the wind-driven blaze that caused thousands of people to evacuate.

Biden headed to the Hill as Democrats struggle to reach deal on spending bills

President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leave a House Democratic Caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday morning will meet with the House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill to provide an update about his Build Back Better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal, according to a White House official.

Driving the news: The meeting comes as Democrats struggle to reach a deal on the spending bills. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Sunday that Democrats were planning to reach an agreement on the infrastructure package this week, before Biden's departure to Europe, which is slated for later on Thursday.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
44 mins ago - Economy & Business

Why it's so hard to tax wealth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The wealth tax that wasn't a wealth tax isn't even a tax, now. The Democrats had a meticulously constructed 107-page proposal to pay for a large chunk of their spending plans with a tax on billionaires, but it died ignobly on Wednesday, the same day it was unveiled.

Why it matters: The dream of a wealth tax will never die as it so neatly generates revenue by reducing inequality. But there are three main reasons why that dream is likely to remain just a dream for the foreseeable future.