Pixel Tracker

Saturday, November 17 , 2018, 2:08 am | Overcast 50º


Stand in the Sand Puts Local Focus on Gulf Oil Catastrophe

Environmental leaders draw parallels to 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara Channel, call for tougher safety standards

Between Solstice revelry and World Cup excitement, Santa Barbara was abuzz with weekend activity, but a group of environmentalists still managed to draw a crowd of what looked to be several hundred yellow T-shirt-clad activists at West Beach on Sunday. Dubbed Stand in the Sand, the event was meant to call attention to the ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, drawing parallels with local offshore oil production.

Harkening back to the 1969 oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel that gave birth to the environmental movement, environmental leaders and elected officials — including Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and Ocean Futures Society founder Jean-Michel Cousteau — called for greater conservation to ease dependence upon petroleum products.

“As long as we’re dependent upon oil, we need to have a system in place to keep things like this from happening,” Cousteau said. “What happened (in the Gulf) could have been avoided. A lot of shortcuts were taken, and if you take shortcuts that means you’re greedy and taking risks. Those risks are not acceptable.”

Comparing the Gulf spill to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, Cousteau opined that an international commission should be established to enforce safety standards. He also pointed out that while the grounding of the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled roughly 30 million gallons of oil, that was only a fraction of the current leak fouling the Gulf. The leak at BP’s Deepwater Horizon well, which began gushing April 20 after a fiery explosion that killed 11 platform workers and injured 17 others, has already spilled hundreds of millions of gallons and is the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Cousteau said that in addition to shortcuts taken by BP executives, lack of oversight by the U.S. Minerals Management Service was to blame.

“It would be in the best interest of everyone involved to comply (with an international regulatory commission) — even the businesses who make money,” said Cousteau, who offered that perhaps the United Nations could take on such a task.

Scott Bull, of Surfrider Foundation's Santa Barbara chapter, shows off a posed photo of a surfer covered in oil.
Scott Bull, of Surfrider Foundation’s Santa Barbara chapter, shows off a posed photo of a surfer covered in oil. (Ben Preston / Noozhawk photo)

“We want businesses to make money, because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do anything, but not without these huge risks.”

Attendees at Sunday’s event were encouraged to focus on making personal choices aimed at conserving petroleum. Many arrived on bicycles or on foot.

“We need to ask ourselves, ‘Is this trip really necessary?’” noted Gaviota Coast Conservancy and Naples Coalition volunteer Joanne McGarry, who had walked from her home to the event. “We’ve got to think before we drive.”

Numerous environmental groups had tables set up at the four-hour event, including the Community Environmental Council, Get Oil Out, Save the Mermaids and Surfrider Foundation’s Santa Barbara chapter.

Click here for more information on Stand in the Sand.

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >