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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

Appeals court blocks order requiring COVID vaccines for California prisons

An aerial view San Quentin State Prison on July 8, 2020. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked an order requiring all California prison workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or have a religious or medical exemption.

Driving the news: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday approved a request for a stay of the order pending appeal. The vaccination mandate was set to go into effect by Jan. 12, but the stay blocks enforcement until March, AP reports.

New report hits DOJ over lack of police shooting data

Demonstrations followed the shooting of Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies in 2020. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A new government accountability report says the Department of Justice failed to consistently publish an annual summary of police excessive force data from 2016 to 2020, as required by federal law.

Why it matters: The data is crucial for the DOJ to monitor excessive force cases, and used to investigate law enforcement agencies with patterns of abuse. The DOJ can pivot off it to pursue court action to force reforms.

14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders clinch support for crucial defense bill, debt limit votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passes waiting reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress has found a shortcut to pass its annual defense funding bill and raise the debt limit.

Driving the news: The House will vote Tuesday night on two major bills — one creating a one-time, fast-track process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, and another passing its annual defense bill.

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