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Cargo ships off the coast of San Pedro, Calif., wait for entry to the Port of Los Angeles or Port of Long Beach, Oct. 6. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating whether the Rotterdam Express, a massive German-flagged cargo ship, could have played a role in causing the 126,000-gallon oil spill in Southern California waters, AP reports.

Driving the news: U.S. Coast Guard investigators boarded the cargo ship on Wednesday as part of the investigation into the cause of the oil spill, which is among the largest in recent California history.

  • The ship, now docked in the Port of Oakland, made three unusual movements over two days while anchored near where the break in the pipeline occurred, AP reports.
  • The investigators are seeking to collect tracking information from the Rotterdam Express that could shed light on the ship's exact movements, an official told AP.
  • Officials said Wednesday that the Amplify Energy pipeline was split open and dragged along the ocean floor, potentially by a ship's anchor.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared a state of emergency due to the oil spill, which is believed to have dumped 126,000 gallons of oil into the ocean.

  • Officials caution that the Rotterdam Express is just one potential area of interest for the investigation into the oil spill.

What they're saying: "There is a series of peculiar things and all that need to be explained," Nikolas Xiros, a professor of marine engineering at the University of New Orleans, told AP.

  • "It may very well be some kind of an accident, but not necessarily a human error. We will have to see. But … I think the most probable explanation is the ship with anchor down moved both back and forth and possibly caused damage to the pipeline."

Go deeper: California oil spill may have been caused by ship anchor

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.

8 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

8 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

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