November 18 2015

Senators Shed Light on Slow Response to Oil Spill

by Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

For nearly six months, the Surfrider Foundation has been working around the clock on the oil spill that occurred at Refugio State Beach, in Santa Barbara, CA in May 2015. At first, our focus was on the immediate impacts of the spill locally.  But sooner than later, our focus shifted when oil deposits began showing up along the south coast.   Over the months, we spent countless hours lobbying state agencies to investigate the full impacts of the spill.  We documented our efforts in blogs, here, here, and here.  We actively supported legislation that aims to improve oil spill response and preparedness.  We even planned a “Paddle Out” with Patagonia to raise awareness about the impacts of the Refugio oil spill and the importance of passing legislation.

Surfrider Foundation Presenting Map of Scattered Oil in South Coast But nothing highlighted the importance of our work like a recent hearing held by Sen Allen and Sen Jackson.   The hearing helped illuminate ‘response glitches’ that occurred immediately after the spill and focused on how to avoid these mistakes during future oil spills. 

The ‘take away’ messages from the hearings are documented in these news articles and reinforce the need to improve “prediction models” of where oil travels; improve communication between Federal, State and local agencies; improve mechanisms for volunteers to assist with cleanup efforts.