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Crude protection

The spill at Refugio State Beach should spur us to protect our coastal waters



The most recent oil spill in Santa Barbara is another stark reminder that oil and oceans don’t mix.

After the spill, the owners of the pipeline said they were sorry.

While we can appreciate the statement, and its rarity, the truth is that Big Oil has a lot to be sorry about: the Deepwater Horizon, exploding “Bomb Trains,” contaminating California aquifers with oil waste, and endangering public health in Los Angeles and the Central Valley, to name just a few.

There was a time when we were so hopelessly dependent on fossil fuels that these risks, and the eventual disasters that always seem to follow, were, if not acceptable, at least understandable. But those times have passed.

With advances in clean energy technologies making them more available to more and more people, it’s time to reassess the risk-reward ratio of drilling for—and transporting and burning—fossil fuels.

Let’s be clear: Big Oil has proven, time after time, it is incapable of restraining and/or regulating itself.

It seems like “Drill, Baby, Drill” has been their mantra—to which we can add “Frack, Baby, Frack,” and, when it comes to influencing politicians, elections, and subverting democracy, “Spend, Baby, Spend!”

With growing pressure to export U.S. oil to the world market leading to increasing efforts to exploit any and all possible sources, especially within California’s Monterey Shale, we can expect more of the same.

So the question is: “What can we do?”

We all know that there’s no silver bullet. No single thing is going to fix the problem. We are transitioning away from fossil fuels. This is a fact. But we’re not moving fast enough or as fast as we can, because special interests are holding us back so they can continue to reap profits at the expense of the planet.

As Will Rogers once said: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” We do that by saying to the oil industry: “You can’t drill here!” That is one of the main goals of the effort to nominate a Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary to protect the waters along the coast of San Luis Obispo County.

A National Marine Sanctuary will bar any new offshore oil drilling and/or undersea mining. These protections will help preserve the unique habitat that exists in the waters along the Central Coast, the many species of fish and marine mammals that depend on it, and the livelihoods of the people in our community who depend a healthy ocean.

Getting the Chumash Heritage National Sanctuary proposal included in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s inventory of potential sanctuary designations means that our entire community will have an opportunity over the next months and years to have meaningful discussions about what we want to see happen regarding our coastal waters, our economy, and our community.

Does anyone want to see a future where we look out from Morro Bay or Avila Beach at oil platforms, or look on in horror as oil slicks stretch for miles and foul SLO County beaches?

I invite you to support the nomination effort for the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Visit www.chumashsanctuary.com.


David Georgi advocates for the marine sanctuary out of Shell Beach. Send comments or questions to clanham@newtimesslo.com.

-- David Georgi - Shell Beach

-- David Georgi - Shell Beach

-- David Georgi - Shell Beach

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