Proposal to Drill Off Santa Barbara (Apparently) Squashed

Photo: Patagonia.

The Inertia

On their own, the words “California State Lands Commission meeting” are likely inspire a yawn or shrug from the average ocean lover. But add in the attempt by an oil company to expand its operations off the Santa Barbara coast, the leaping-to-action of several passionate advocates, some bold responses from charismatic leaders, and suddenly the story sounds a lot juicer.

It starts like this: Venoco, Inc., which operates the only oil drilling platform in state waters, has a proposal to the State Lands Commission (SLC) to expand its existing leases offshore the city of Goleta, near Santa Barbara. If approved, the project would constitute the first new or expanded lease in state waters since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill that killed thousands of animals, enraged the public and launched much of the regulatory improvements California’s coast benefits from today.

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