Reflections on Refugio

If you don’t want to read this long piece please sign these two petitions!

1. Santa Barbara City Council: Divest Now.

2. Governor Brown: Ban Fracking Now.

05202015_Refugio_Oil_Cleanup_53_t479

The oil spill happened, but you already knew that! We’re mad and sad and we’re organizing. What did you expect!

Why We Exist As 350 Santa Barbara

Part of our goal 2 ½ years ago in forming this group was to bring more fire to the community with a particular emphasis on climate justice.

Becca had read Bill McKibben’s Terrifying New Math article, and Colin and I had just got back from an intensive direct action training with Tar Sands Blockade in Houston, Texas. We each agreed that the environmental community here was much too sleepy for how serious the climate crisis is. We wanted to wake people up by bringing some grassroots take-it-to-the-streets energy, so we did!

Admittedly, we came off at times as as needlessly oppositional. I showed up to a county planner’s commission meeting dressed up as Darth Vader, pretending to be in support of an extraction project because it was “evil.” On my speaking slip I wrote that my name was “Darth Fracker.” Silly I know, but the point was to “rock the boat” of the “don’t rock the boat” culture here through humor and creativity.

cropped-dsc2090.jpg

We brought a lot of energy to a lot of events, such as the Climate Rally on July 27, 2013 and the Draw The Line rally we had on September 21, 2013. This is where our now famous 90 foot pipeline was born, which has been featured in the New York Times, and has been used at multiple rallies in California.

Santa Barbara Draws the Line with a 90' Pipeline!

Santa Barbara Draws the Line with a 90′ Pipeline!

SB Pipeline 2

We attempted to educate the community about climate change being a social justice issue that impacts some people more than others on the global scale.

climatechangeimpact

And of course, we helped form a coalition called the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, which took on Big Oil directly through a ballot initiative that tried to ban extreme oil extraction in our county.

a

b c

Chevron and their buddies spent over $8 million to defeat the fracking ban, outspending Water Guardians 20-1, resulting in a pretty bad loss. Alas, the most carbon intensive form of oil extraction in the world lives on in Santa Barbara County (cyclic steam injection, AKA steam fracking).

But the war on extreme extraction in California has really just begun. In February we helped get 2 buses full of people from Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to Oakland to demand Governor Brown ban fracking. That was the biggest climate march California has ever seen, and it was led by our indigenous brothers and sisters at the frontlines of this global crisis. We were 8,000 people strong, and we had a great time up there.

IMG_6469

IMG_6483

IMG_6482

10982472_448515925296181_5236027391165348561_n

Governor Brown will cave in to our demands eventually, and every signature on this petition helps — so please sign.  

In between then and now, Becca was hired by Food and Water Watch to continue efforts to ban the most extreme forms of energy extraction. She was even hired as a consultant with the World Business Academy to bring 100% energy solutions to the community. Colin has been working on GIS mapping projects linking the spatial and racial relationships between oil and gas development sites and proximity to schools. I’ve been mostly working on my graduate program to become a mental health professional and working two jobs, so I haven’t had as much time available to dedicate to this work…

But then…

The Horrible, Horrible Oil Spill

1535520_385466678312637_3500503654672367830_n

You probably know the details by now…

Over 105,000 barrels of crude oil mixed with Benzene and other dangerous chemicals ruptured out of a pipeline owned by Plains All American on May 19, 2015. It has been killing marine life daily, from SB to LA.

11377324_1583635548580362_5155904990271423551_n

Some people in the community got out to the Gaviota coast in a totally volunteer, DIY capacity and started cleaning up. Some of them, who did work to stop the gang injunction in Santa Barbara last year, started their own new group called End Oil Now. They got national news!  

Some who were impacted by the 2010 BP spill in Louisiana wrote this open letter to them to warn them of the health effects of handling oil.  

Divestment activists in the Bay Area then brought to my attention the fact that the retirement funds our city relies on have over $100,000,000 invested directly in Plains All American! In total, the state retirement funds CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC Pension System have over $500 billion invested in dirty energy companies. So I decided to replace the time I had been spending ocean swimming (giving that up for a while) to rekindle the city divestment conversation.  

So city council members… can you pass a resolution urging the state retirement funds our city relies on to divest? (Sign the petition here.)

Thanks if you came out to the ultra-positive #standinthesand rally last Sunday and, lots of respect if you instead chose the American Indian Movement healing ceremony at the Mission denouncing Junipero Serra at the same time. It’s too bad when important events conflict like that…

And……….. as always…………….. onward!!

11193419_10153893183383976_5154691164369312404_n

Max
😀
350 Santa Barbara

SB County Water Guardians File Initiative To Ban Fracking

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY WATER GUARDIANS FILES INITIATIVE TO BAN FRACKING IN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

For immediate release
March 18, 2014

Filing is first step to protect County residents’ health, environment and local resources City of Santa Barbara – Today, Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, a grassroots group of concerned local citizens, filed a notice of intent with the Santa Barbara County Registrar to circulate an initiative petition within the County of Santa Barbara to protect the County’s air, water, and health by prohibiting land uses related to fracking, cyclic steam injection and other high-intensity petroleum operations.

As oil companies plan to expand the use of high-intensity petroleum operations to extract oil and gas from the Monterey Shale and other formations across Santa Barbara County, public concerns grow. Chemicals involved in many of these operations are associated with serious health problems such as cancer and birth defects. The increased emission of air pollutants has been tied to a greater risk of asthma attacks and reduced agricultural yields. At the same time, the threatened proliferation of new wells threatens the County’s famed scenic vistas, robust tourism industry and quality of life.

Expanding high-intensity petroleum operations will also compete with agricultural and public uses for Santa Barbara County’s limited water supplies. With reports of groundwater contamination in four states related to these operations, Santa Barbara’s local farms and wineries could be devastated if a well casing fails or wastewater is mismanaged. Activities associated with these advanced drilling practices have also been linked to increased seismic activity, which is concerning for a County that sits on a number of active fault lines.

“Using these technologies, the petroleum industry would gain increased access to oil resources lying below our homes, farms and natural areas,” said Rebecca Claassen of Santa Barbara County Water Guardians. “The impacts and risks associated with high-intensity petroleum operations are too great for Santa Barbara County residents to accept.

In order to protect local resources and interests, we want to prohibit this land use before it further endangers human health and the environment in Santa Barbara County.”

The initiative will protect the health and environment of Santa Barbara County by amending the Santa Barbara County Comprehensive Plan and related codes to prohibit the use of any land within the County’s unincorporated area for fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations. The initiative includes provisions to protect vested rights and constitutionally protected property rights.

Upon the County Registrar’s certification that proponents have secured the requisite number of signatures on the petition, the Board of Supervisors can elect to adopt the initiative or put the measure on the ballot for voters to decide this November. The measure is widely supported by a broad coalition of Santa Barbara community groups and environmental organizations.

Measures to ban fracking and high-intensity petroleum operations have been adopted in New Mexico, Colorado and New York, to protect public health and safeguard natural resources. In California, residents of San Benito County are also circulating an initiative petition to ban high-intensity petroleum operations in that county. The San Francisco law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, which has extensive experience in land use and environmental issues, and attorney Nathan G. Alley of Limestone Law & Policy Advocates drafted the Santa Barbara measure.

Santa Barbara County Water Guardians is a growing coalition of concerned parents, professionals, farmers, students and others opposed to fracking and other high-intensive petroleum operations that threaten our water quality and supplies in Santa Barbara County.

We invite supporters to come to an April 5 kickoff party and to join our roster of hundreds of volunteers who will be gathering signatures to qualify our initiative for the November ballot at:

http://www.waterguardians.org.

Santa Barbara County’s Global Warming Hall of Shame

Santa Maria Energy has been placing full-page ads in local papers objecting to the fact that County Supervisors required them to offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions. They think it’s “unfair” they don’t get an unlimited license to pollute for free and pass along the costs to the rest of us.

We are experiencing the impacts of climate change now. We are seeing more intense and deadly storms, record-breaking fires and droughts, spreading tropical diseases, heat waves and rising seas. The oceans are more acidic affecting the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest and people’s livelihoods. Our local agricultural economy and our children’s future are at risk.

What is “unfair” is that people are suffering and dying today from the impacts of global warming, including 5600+ people from one of the largest storms ever recorded in the Philippines, and Santa Maria Energy is quibbling about a sixty cent per barrel cut in their profits.

What is “unfair” is that Santa Maria Energy is threatening politicians for taking a modest step to limit greenhouse gas emissions, even though according to polling by the Public Policy Institute of California, 81% of Californians want oil companies to reduce emissions.

The Santa Maria Energy project will be one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the County, generating over 87,000 tons of emissions per year, or the equivalent of adding 17,000+ cars to our roads. The recent decision by County Supervisors requires the company reduce or purchase offsets for emissions above a 10,000 ton per year threshold. The cost for them will be peanuts, an estimated half-a-million bucks a year out of $110 million a year in revenues.

The politicians who should be “judged in the court of public opinion” are not the Supervisors whose decision Santa Maria Energy doesn’t like, but the politicians who went out of their way to advocate for Santa Maria Energy’s right to pollute for free — some even outright denying global warming.

That dubious list includes:

Steve Lavagnino, County Supervisor
Peter Adam, County Supervisor
Michael Bennett, Mayor Pro Tempore Goleta
Jim Richardson, Mayor of Solvang
John Linn, Mayor of Lompoc
DeWayne Holmdahl, City Council of Lompoc
Frances Romero, Mayor City of Guadalupe
Alice Patino, Mayor Santa Maria

The majority of County residents want our Supervisors to ensure oil companies are operating safely, paying for their pollution, and held accountable. They do not want politicians who are in the pocket of the oil companies. Santa Maria Energy’s call to action is a blatant attempt to buy our elections and will be resisted.

50 UCSB Faculty Call on SB Mayor To Support Fossil-Fuel Divestment

Another article by Noozhawk, this time in the form of a Letter to the Editor.

***

[Note: The following is a letter sent May 15 from UCSB faculty members to the office of Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider.]

Dear Mayor Helene Schneider,

We are a group of UCSB faculty in support of the fossil fuel divestment campaigns sweeping universities, cities, churches and other institutions right now.

There have been resolutions passed by both the UCSB and SBCC student senates to have their campuses divest from the fossil fuel industry, and there is a campaign now among faculty at UCSB to call on our faculty Legislature to do the same.

Some of us have been in contact with organizers from the group 350 Santa Barbara, who say they have been in communication with you about fossil fuel divestment.

It is our understanding that you told them the City of Santa Barbara divested long ago. We think it would make a strong statement to publicly state that the city has already divested and will not invest in any fossil fuel companies in the future, that you support these recent campus divestment initiatives and that you hope other local institutions will consider divesting as well.

It is in the interest of the economy, the public’s health and general welfare, and our globally shared environment that we support these divestment initiatives wherever they may continue cropping up.

Great changes start with small steps. Please join us in taking those steps now. The whole world is waiting.

Sincerely,

John Foran, Sociology
Elisabeth Weber, German
Harold Marcuse, History
Ruth Hellier-Tinoco, Music
Paul Spickard, Asian-American Studies
Aranye Fradenburg, English
David Lopez-Carr, Geography
Lisa Parks, Film and Media Studies
Greg Mohr, Environmental Studies
Marc McGinnes, Environmental Studies
Casey Walsh, Anthropology
Raymond Clemençon, Global and International Studies
David Cleveland, Environmental Studies
Catherine Gautier, Geography
Aashish Mehta, Global and International Studies
Veronica Castillo-Munoz, History
Celia Alario, Environmental Studies
Rita Raley, English
Chris Newfield, English
Sharon Farmer, History
Stephanie LeMenager, English
Jeffrey Hoelle, Anthropology
Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Sociology
Aranye Fradenburg, English
Leila Rupp, Feminist Studies
Stephanie LeMenager, English
Richard Appelbaum, Global and International Studies
Patricia Clancy, Linguistics
Nancy Gallagher, History
Claudio Fogu, Italian
ann-elise Lewallen, East Asian Languages
Eileen Boris, Feminist Studies
Maria Charles, Sociology
Howard Winant, Sociology
Bruce Bimber, Political Science
Celia Alario, Environmental Studies
Barbara Harthorn, Feminist Studies Arturo Keller, BREN School
Catherine Nesci, French
Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, Chicano Studies
Bodo Bookhagen, Geography Julie Carlson, English
Mary Hancock, Anthropology
Mayfair Yang, Religious Studies
Diane Fujino, Asian-American Studies
Tim Cooley, Music
Grace Chang, Feminist Studies
Roberto Strongman, Black Studies
Kum-Kum Bhavnani, Sociology