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Santa Barbara oil spill highlights dangers of offshore fracking and drilling
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday May 19th, 2015 9:03 PM
"The oil spill near Refugio State Beach is a stark reminder of the dangerous risks expanded oil drilling poses to Santa Barbara County’s environment and its residents’ quality of life," said Becca Claassen, Santa Barbara County Organizer of Food & Water Watch.

Photo of offshore oil rig courtesy of theecoreport.com.
800_offshore-oil-drilling-1038x576.jpg
Santa Barbara oil spill highlights dangers of offshore fracking and drilling

by Dan Bacher

In the same region where questionable "marine protected areas" were created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist, state and federal government crews are cleaning up a big oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline spans four miles wide and there is still some seepage, according to authorities.

"The ruptured pipeline in Goleta leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil Tuesday, some of which flowed into the ocean off Santa Barbara County, authorities said," the LA Times reported. (http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83582957/)

A local first reported the spill coming from a leak the pipeline at Refugio State Beach around noon on Tuesday, May 19. Coast Guard crews stopped the leak by 3 p.m., said Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson.

The region impacted by the spill includes three "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative - the Campus Point, Naples and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas - along with the Refugio State Marine Conservation Area.

In one of the biggest environmental scandals in recent California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the Campus Point State Marine Conservation Area and other so-called "marine protected areas." She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012. (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/30745-a-whale-of-a-conflict-of-interest-big-oil-lobbyist-s-oversight-of-marine-protected-areas)

Reheis-Boyd leads the campaign to expand fracking and offshore oil drilling in California. The alleged "marine protected areas" created under the leadership of her and other corporate operatives on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil spills, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

As reports of the spill and the clean up efforts were emerging, representatives of environmental groups responded to the disaster.

Becca Claassen, Santa Barbara County Organizer of Food & Water Watch, said the Santa Barbara spill provides even more reason for the state of California to ban fracking.

“The oil spill near Refugio State Beach is a stark reminder of the dangerous risks expanded oil drilling poses to Santa Barbara County’s environment and its residents’ quality of life," said Classen. "This incident is all the more reason to ban fracking both offshore and onshore to help prevent future spills and protect Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches and coastal environment.”

In 2013, an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act investigation revealed that oil companies had conducted fracking offshore fracking operations in Southern California waters, including the Santa Barbara Channel, over a 20-year period. The oil companies were fracking Southern California waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd served as the Chair of the MLPA panel for the South Coast from 2009 to 2012.

"There it is!" said Joey Racano of the Ocean Outfall Group, after he heard about the oil spill. "This has been a site of ongoing fracking offshore for years with no public knowledge or review. Christine Reheis Boyd, Western States Petroleum Association President AND chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel on the MLPA, here are the results of your handiwork and deceit."

Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center for Biological Diversity, released the following statement about the spill:

"Time and again we've seen oil foul our coasts, whether it's Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico or Santa Barbara. Oil spills are part of the ugly cost of fossil fuel development, made even worse by aging domestic infrastructure. It doesn't have to be this way and it shouldn't. We need to start aggressively moving away from fuel sources that are devastating for wildlife, people and our climate. If we don't, what we're seeing in Santa Barbara will continue be the norm."

The oil spill makes it even more urgent that the Legislature pass State Senator Mike McGuire's California Coastal Protection Act of 2015 (Senate Bill 788), to address a glaring offshore oil drilling loophole in California law.

The California Coastal Sanctuary Act, passed in 1994, contains a loophole from the offshore extraction prohibition, Public Resources Code 6244, by allowing new oil leases if the “State Lands Commission determines that oil and gas deposits contained in tidelands are being drained by means of wells upon adjacent federal lands and leasing of the tidelands for oil or gas production is in the best interest of the State.”

SB 788 would eliminate this loophole by repealing PRC 6244 to ensure that the Coastal Sanctuary Act and Marine Life Protection Act are able to provide their intended protections for our coastal resources and prevent additional offshore oil extraction (http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB788)

Yes, the Western States Petroleum Association President, the same oil lobbyist who oversaw the creation of questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California, and the oil companies are opposing SB 788.
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DirectorJoey RacanoWednesday May 20th, 2015 4:32 PM