SANTA BARBARA, CA – Outraged over an oil pipeline burst that Tuesday spilled at least 105,000 gallons of oil into a nine-mile slick along the Pacific Coast near Santa Barbara, at least 150 community members joined non-profit and local elected officials for a rally and press conference today at Santa Barbara County Courthouse to express the urgent need to place a moratorium on fracking and phase out oil development in California.
“This spill of more than 100,000 gallons of oil is a consequence of the expansion of oil and gas drilling,” said Becca Claassen, Santa Barbara County organizer with Food & Water Watch. “In order to protect our coastline, our health and our future from toxic emergencies like this spill, Governor Brown must begin phase out oil production in California, starting with a ban on fracking and other dangerous extraction techniques both onshore and offshore.”
Participants called on Governor Brown to take immediate action to ban fracking both on shore and off shore within California waters and to support legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Lois Capps to stop new offshore oil and gas leases off the California coast and place a moratorium on offshore fracking in California.
“As we learn more about the cause of this accident, we must also focus on how to prevent future spills,” said Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider. “We need to get ourselves to a place that’s less reliant on oil and more reliant on new clean and renewable technologies that do not put our precious and fragile coastline and beaches at risk, like solar and wind. And we need to make the shift in a way that is economically viable for the workers within the industry as well as all of us who use the energy sources. California and the nation can and should be a leader on these issues.”
The action came the day after Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency in an effort to facilitate clean up of the toxic, smelly mess centered at Refugio State Beach.
“The significant environmental and economic damage that has resulted from this recent oil spill highlights the fact that we must make decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels a top priority by expanding green energy alternatives,” said Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
The source of the spill was an 11-mile pipeline operated by Plains All American Pipeline, which, according to a Los Angeles Times report, “has accumulated 175 safety and maintenance infractions since 2006.”
“The oil crisis on the Santa Barbara coast is a call to action,” said Matt Renner, Executive Director of World Business Academy. “Our community is being called to lead the transition to a 100% renewable energy future. There’s no such thing as a ‘solar spill'; we call that a nice day. We have a unique opportunity to build a word-class energy system that can make this county fossil fuel-free in less than a decade. But we must act now.”
Linda Krop, Chief Counsel at Environmental Defense Center, pointed out that, the spill happened in spite of regulations to protect people and the environment. “No matter how strong the regulations and no matter how advanced the technology, there is no way to prevent a major oil spill,” Krop said.
The action was organized by Food & Water Watch, 350 Santa Barbara, Center for Biological Diversity, World Business Academy, Californians Against Fracking, Environmental Defense Center and Environment California.