Our dependence on fossil fuels is nothing new, but the 140,000 gallons of oil that spilled onto Santa Barbara’s pristine land and sea on May 19 2015, is a fierce reminder of how dangerous offshore drilling operations can be.
On August 22nd, the Surfrider Foundation in partnership with Patagonia and other local groups organized a 5-mile round trip “paddle out” to an oil platform off Santa Barbara to raise awareness about the dangers and shortsightedness of offshore drilling. The recent oil spill and slicks threatening our coastline are crude reminders of the impacts of offshore drilling… and thus, we coined the event #CrudeAwakening.
The main goal of the paddle out was to highlight important legislation moving the California legislature. There are four pieces of legislation that will help prevent future oil drilling, improve response procedures, require automatic shutoff technology, and increase safety inspections. Send a letter to your elected officials.
The event was a major success despite there being oil slicks on the water that day. As this article points out, abnormal amounts of oil were witnessed. Surfrider Foundation also spoke to an official from the City of Goleta who confirmed that there had been an abnormal amount of oil on the beach that weekend and they contacted state agencies to document the excessive oil. Just one day before our paddle out, Summerland beach (a few miles from our event locations) was closed because of excess oil.
So why do we keep seeing so much oil? Honestly, no one can really provide a straight answer. Yes, we know there is “natural seepage” in the area—so perhaps some oil is naturally seeping up from the ocean floor. We also know that there are abandoned wells in the area that have never been properly ‘capped’, which could be a source of leaking oil. We also know that some platform operations were shut down in wake of the Plains oil spill, so maybe oil is leaking from stalled platforms. Regardless of the elusive origin, the bottom line is excessive oil is appearing on our beaches more frequently.
Enjoy this awesome video created by our friends at Patagonia. And please remember to contact your elected officials and help us pass these bills so we can proactively protect our precious California coast for future generations to come.