Santa Barbara—Another Outrageous Oil Spill

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Just as the Obama administration gave its approval to Shell drilling for oil in the Arctic, and as hundreds in Seattle protested and sought to block Shell drilling rigs—yet another oil spill hit the coastline at Santa Barbara, California. This spill, spreading in the ocean for nine miles, demonstrates again the disregard of this system for nature, and its inability to protect the natural world.

An estimated 105,000 gallons leaked from a pipeline into a culvert along the coastline near Santa Barbara. 21,000 gallons have leaked into the ocean. The area where the spill occurred is one rich with marine life. It includes the beautiful palm-tree lined shore at Refugio State Beach that now is fouled with oil. Pictures from the Huffington Post shows sea birds and other ocean life covered with oil, some dead.

The area along the Santa Barbara coast where the recent oil spill occurred is rich in marine life, such as these mussels and crab.
The area along the Santa Barbara coast where the recent oil spill occurred is rich in marine life, such as these mussels and crab. (AP photo)

Quite a bit of the coverage in the mainstream press has downplayed the spill, saying it was “nothing like” a much larger spill that hit Santa Barbara in 1969. Like this makes it ok?

In contrast with this, an article in the LA times quoted Linda Krop, chief counsel for the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center who visited Refugio State Beach, saying: “There was oil that was covering the beach and also being washed out to sea... To me this was a very significant event. The beach was just blanketed in black tar.”

Krop said, “Right now we have migratory whales, including endangered humpbacks and blue whales...We also have gray whales migrating back from Baja [California] to Alaska, and they come closer to shore. We also have a lot of very rare seabirds and other coastal endangered species. It’s a very, very sensitive, important place and we don't know what the eventual harm will be.”

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr said "This stretch of the California coast is unique in the world... This is more than an inconvenience, this is a disaster.”

The oil was being mopped up and skimmed from the waters, but studies have shown that at most 10-15% of oil that spills in the ocean typically is cleaned up.

The company that owns the pipeline, Plains All American Pipeline, is listed by the federal government as the fifth worst violator in reporting safety and maintenance infractions. Since 2006 the company has had 175 infractions and caused more than 16,000 barrels (672,000 gallons) of oil to spill causing $23 million in damage. Despite this, the company was still allowed to operate—the Obama administration and the entire system allows all this to continue. As they do, they lie that oil drilling and transport safety standards guarantee this can be carried out thoughtfully and safely, “balancing energy needs with those of the environment”.

Oil drilling, extraction of coal and gas, transport, shipping and burning of these fossil fuels is inherently dangerous. This is spreading environmental damage at a point when the world’s ecosystems are straining under the weight of this system's destruction. We need a system, right now, that protects the environment, that dramatically moves away from this rampant destruction, that rebuilds the energy foundation of society on a safe and sustainable basis, and that leaves these fuels that are causing a climate catastrophe where they belong—in the ground.



Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.



"The film brings you up close inside Cornel West's and Bob Avakian's dialogue: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice – pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity."

Andy Zee,
co-director of the film


BA Speaks

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

BAsics 1:13