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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 9:31 am | Overcast 58º


People’s Climate March in Santa Barbara Aims to Turn Up Heat on Donald Trump

Demonstrators issue demands for fossil-free energy, an end to oil and gas projects, and ‘a sacred and sustainable relationship with our planet’


Under a bright sunny sky, several hundred protesters rallied Saturday at Santa Barbara City College, standing up to President Donald Trump and what they say are darkening times for climate protections.

With signs and chants, the demonstrators swarmed La Playa Stadium to demand action.

The local People’s Climate March was assembled by a coalition of environmental justice activists; small businesses; members of the faith community; and labor, youth and service groups. The protest coincided with hundreds of similar marches Saturday around the United States.

South Coast demonstrators were encouraged to take a stand against increased oil development in Santa Barbara County, and many signed postcards calling on the county Board of Supervisors to deny new oil projects.

Another letter demanded that the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara set a goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, with a target of 50 percent three years from now, in 2020.

“Today is about climate action, and we can decide whether to be part of the solution or the problem,” said Katie Davis, chairwoman of the Santa Barbara Sierra Club.

“By taking action, we are sending a message to the state, nation and world that we are committed to fossil-free energy. This is how we counter (President) Trump — with local action.”

Emily Williams, a UC Santa Barbara graduate and member of the 350 Santa Barbara anti-oil group, said the Environmental Protection Agency had removed a climate science website from public view the day before. Boos erupted from the crowd after her statement.

“To achieve climate justice, we need to radically transform our political economic and social structures,” she said. “We need to be bold to demand change. Change comes from community organizing that comes from all stakeholders.

“We need solutions and those solutions don’t come from our government — it comes from we, the people.”

Owen Bailey, executive director of the Environmental Defense Center, informed the crowd that Trump had signed an executive order Friday that would expand offshore oil and gas drilling off California.

Trump’s order reversed a last-minute executive order of President Barack Obama that restricted drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. Trump also ordered an assessment of whether energy exploration can take place in marine sanctuaries in federal waters of the Pacific and Atlantic.

“This is an administration that put cabinet members in place who do not believe in climate change,” Bailey said. “We have decades of work to stop offshore drilling. We live in a community that understands climate is not politics, it’s science.”

The Rev. Julia Hamilton, lead minister of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, represented local faith organizations at the rally.

“We are here because we should be investing in a sacred and sustainable relationship with our planet — not in pipelines full of oil and gas,” she said. “In Santa Barbara, we know better than most that pipelines will leak. Oil will spill. It’s just a matter of time.”

Former Vice President Al Gore’s daughter, Sarah, delivered a speech on behalf of her father.

“Thank you for marching for our climate,” said Gore, who was married in Carpinteria in 2014 and lives locally. “We have to win this fight for the future of our climate balance and with your help, we will.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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