oil protest

Attendees of Thursday’s sustainable-energy rally in Santa Barbara let their signs do the talking. Click here for more photos from the event. (Robert Bernstein photo)

The Gaviota Coast oil spill was cause for a noon press conference on the Santa Barbara Courthouse steps Thursday.

Speakers and organizations included Rebecca Claassen of Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, county Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, Linda Krop of the Environmental Defense Center, Chumash elders, Matt Renner of the World Business Academy, the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, Get Oil Out (GOO), 350.org and Marc McGinnes, who was here at the 1969 oil spill.

Supervisor Carbajal and Mayor Schneider both emphasized the need to transition to sustainable fossil-free energy — not only because of the local damage done by oil, but because of the global impacts such as climate change and international conflict.

Renner of the World Business Academy talked about plans for Community Choice Energy: Creating the energy we need locally through solar energy.

Claassen and Krop called on Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a moratorium on fracking and other extreme extraction methods that drive local oil extraction — both on and off shore. They noted that this spill was caused by an on-shore pipeline failure.

Claassen had been asked by a reporter if the Gaviota Coast deserves special protection. She said she grew up in Lompoc and Orcutt and those areas deserve just as much protection.

“No place is acceptable for an oil spill,” she said.

Transitioning to sustainable energy was the common theme of every speech as well as many of the signs. The Chumash elders especially reminded us of the importance of planning many generations ahead. The transition will have to happen.

Sign holder Danielle explained that the cost of not transitioning is far more expensive: foreign wars, environmental destruction, global warming and oil industry subsidies.

After the event I rode my bike out to Coal Oil Point State Reserve and out several miles to remember what is at stake locally. As I paused a flock of pelicans flew over. The wind was blowing directly from Refugio toward Coal Oil Point.

Robert Bernstein is a local photographer and frequent Noozhawk contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.