The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Email:,info(at)fwwatch(dot)org,Seth Gladstone -,

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

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 mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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