Fifty years ago, in January-February 1969, a blowout on Union Oil’s Platform A released 80,000-100,000 barrels of crude oil into the Santa Barbara Channel, covering the coast from Goleta to Ventura and the Channel Islands, and killing thousands of sea birds, fish and marine mammals including dolphins and seals.
Public outrage led to environmental legislation and the modern environmental movement. Now that numerous recently released reports have indicated how critical the protection of our environment is, it is important to look back at the history of our concerns.
In that context, Marc McGinnes, professor emeritus and a founding member of UCSB’s Environmental Studies Program, will discuss the key role the Santa Barbara community has played in launching and sustaining the environmental movement over the past five decades.
He also will exaine the work of the environmental movement in Santa Barbara and beyond in the coming 50 years.
McGinnes will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. to museum members and 6:45 p.m. to non-members. Cost to attend is $10 for musum members, $20 for non-members.
At the end of the program, McGinnes’ recently released book In Love with Earth: Testimonies and Heartsongs of an Environmental Elder will be for sale, and he will be available to sign books.
McGinnes is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. Following post-doctoral study, he joined the San Francisco law firm of Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges as an attorney working for clients in the engineering and construction industries.
In 1969, he moved to Santa Barbara to begin work as an environmental lawyer in the aftermath of the offshore oil platform blowout and spill early that year.
He served as chair of the January 28 Committee, which presented the Santa Barbara Declaration of Environmental Rights at the national Environmental Rights Day conference on the first anniversary of the blowout and spill.
He then became the founding president of the Community Environmental Council in 1970, one of the nation’s first community-based environmental education centers.
In 1971 McGinnes accepted the invitation to join the faculty at UCSB, where he developed and taught 10 courses in environmental law, policy, dispute resolution, and ecopsychology, including the longest running undergraduate course in environmental law in the U.S.
McGinnes also is the author of Principles of Environmental Law and In Love with Earth: Testimonies and Heartsongs of an Environmental Elder.
In addition to his academic teaching and scholarship, McGinnes has been a pioneer in the professional practices of environmental law and legal ecology since 1969. In 1977, he led the founding of the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), a regionally centered public interest environmental law firm.
EDC led a successful six-year struggle on behalf of Native American groups to prevent the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility near Pt. Conception on land held by them to be sacred.
EDC lawyers have represented dozens of environmental organizations and others in scores of cases involving a wide variety of planning and environmental protection issues.
From 1970 to the present, McGinnes has served as a director and advisor to numerous nonprofit organizations including the Congress on Optimum Population and Environment (Chicago), Earth Island Institute (San Francisco), Antioch University and Viridis Graduate Institute (Santa Barbara).
Event sponsored by Marie L. Morrisroe.
— Rita Serotkin for Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.