Fiftieth Anniversary of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill is a Reminder of Urgent Need to Protect Communities from the Dangers of Drilling


by Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino

Plans to drill 768 new wells in Santa Barbara County put families at risk

Fifty years after the Santa Barbara oil spill, local community environmental organizations are still fighting the threat posed by the expansion of both onshore and offshore drilling. On January 28, 1969 a Union Oil Co. drilling platform punctured a high pressure pocket gushing 3 million gallons of oil into the Pacific off Santa Barbara over the course of a month. Despite the stricter regulations in response to the spill, there have been numerous other offshore spills over the last decades including the Exxon-Valdez and Deep Water Horizon disasters and the 2015 Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara. 

As the Trump Administration threatens to expand offshore drilling in federal waters off the California Coast and elsewhere, families in Santa Barbara County face a threefold expansion of onshore drilling. Three oil companies, Aera Energy, ERG and PetroRock, propose to drill 768 new oil wells in Cat Canyon in the northern part of the county near Santa Maria.

Statement by Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Senior Organizer, Food & Water Watch 

“Despite our role in launching the environmental movement 50 years ago, Santa Barbara remains open to oil companies that want to do business here. It seems that some lawmakers have not learned the lessons of the 1969 oil spill—that drilling is inherently dangerous to our communities, coastline, drinking water and climate. The families living near Cat Canyon in north Santa Barbara County are fighting for their right to clean water, air and health. Oil poses a threat, whether in federal or state waters or on land near the communities where we live. We call on the Board of Supervisors to vote down permits for 768 new oil wells. We also call on Gov. Newsom to make California a clean energy leader and commit to moving the state to 100% renewable energy by 2030.”

Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.


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2 Responses to Fiftieth Anniversary of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill is a Reminder of Urgent Need to Protect Communities from the Dangers of Drilling

  1. Bruce Boyer for Ventura County Sheriff February 21, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    How about the right to tap our resources? Fer of what could happen would men we never do anything. 1969 is ancient history. The oil companies know hundreds times more than they did in the 1960s… Stop thinking you need to control other people!

  2. William Hicks February 9, 2019 at 3:01 am

    How about the economic losses of not drilling? What about the tax losses? We’ve approved the use of marijuana that has known and unknown health risks, but not for oil drilling. Can we run our cars on Marijuana? Can we heat our houses on Marijuana?


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