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Refugio Oil Spill, May 20,2015. Photo by Erin Feinblatt.

Learning From Our Mistakes

It has been an emotional experience, standing on Refugio State Beach, overwhelmed and nauseated by the stench and facing the damage that crude oil has once again caused to our precious coastline. It’s not like we haven’t been here before. But somehow each time oil befouls a treasured beach or I see the dark sheen of oil floating toward the horizon, it hits me like a fresh punch.

I can’t help but ask myself, why can’t we learn from our past mistakes?

Refugio Oil Spill, May 20,2015. Photo by Erin Feinblatt.

Refugio Oil Spill, May 20,2015. Photo by Erin Feinblatt.

Of course, each disaster is unique and there are questions that we need answers to in order to start to understand what went wrong with this Plains All American Pipeline disaster. Questions which must include: What caused the pipeline to rupture? Why such a limited offshore response in the first hours of the disaster? And why didn’t this relatively new pipeline shut down automatically? But while yes, each oil disaster is unique; it is never in fact surprising. Whether we are talking about a pipeline, a well bore, a train or tanker, a refinery or an offshore platform, we need to know that we are talking about incredible risk. There is no pipeline that cannot break, just as there is no train or tanker impervious to damage.

Over the five years that have passed since Deepwater Horizon or even the 46 years that have passed since the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, we have had many chances to change course, to prioritize the protection of communities and our environment and to begin to move away from oil. The looming shadow of catastrophic climate disruption gives us even more reason to act. But instead, we find that we need to learn this lesson again, and again, and again.

So what can we do?  At EDC we have been fighting offshore and onshore oil projects for close to 40 years. We have stopped some projects, terminated some leases, and influenced policy and regulations. The best that we can do, however, to avert this type of disaster is to say “no” to more oil drilling. We need to say “no” to the Sunset/Exxon proposal to drill offshore Vandenberg and we need to say “no” to Venoco’s proposal to expand oil development from Platform Holly.

More immediately, here is what you can do:

  • To report oiled wildlife contact: UC Davis Wildlife Care Network 877-823-6926
  • To get more information on volunteering visit: Cal Spill Watch
  • Please do not rush up to Refugio State Beach and do not try to clean up the oil or rescue wildlife. Please stay clear and allow the professional response teams to work safely. 
  • For more updates you can visit Plains.update.com and follow EDC on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Take a look at the photos of the spill we have shared, taken by Erin Feinblatt.

My thoughts are with the whales and with the emergency crews putting themselves at risk to clean oil off our coastline once again.

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Comments (14)

  • Adrianne Davis

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    I know that CEC cannot also embrace the struggle to close and decommission Diablo Canyon as well, but we all must not forget to educate ourselves that these energy sources are connected, devastatingly. We in Santa Barbara and beyond are all Downwinders from Santa Barbara, 80 miles away. One good wind and we better stay in our offices, schools and homes, tape the doors and windows with sodium iodide pills on hand, staying put, staying off the roads and freeways.
    And since the 13 faults around Diablo with one just off the shore, have been public information for some years, it’s critical that the reactors be shut down and the spent fuel rods encapsulated in dry casks for at least a safe 45 years.

    Both fossil fuels and nuclear energy are incompatible to our lives, our futures. Alternative, sustainable power is shifting the economics of energy. Wind, solar, tidal, thermal and hydrogen will soon gain more favor because they are becoming competitive in price.

    While we say “NO” to new drilling and expansion of oil development we must support those who are fighting to close Diablo and all of the other commercial nuclear plants in the US and internationally. A nuclear disaster knows no boundaries.

    Thank you for all that you do!!!
    Adrianne Davis

    Reply

  • Jill Dexter

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    You are doing such a good job. We need to stop this drilling off our beautiful beaches!

    Reply

  • Edward Bear

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    Thanks for your comments and all your work over the years. Love and hugs, EB

    Reply

  • Kay Utterback

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    Linda,
    It has been 12 years since Nyle passed away. I immediately thought of 1969. This is when he first became involved with politics. He would be echoing you, WHY CAN’T WE LEARN FROM PAST MISTAKES.We were at the beach trying to do what ever we could.
    Kay

    Reply

  • Eileen Preston

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    Thank you Linda for the work you and the EDC do. This is a commentary on why drilling, pipelines and marine life do not mix.

    Best Regards,

    Eileen and Mark Preston
    Buellton

    Reply

  • Wes Herman

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    As a condition of permit to operate any type of hydrocarbon related enterprise with the exceptions of gasoline filling stations, automotive repair and mercantile businesses like , K-Mart, Home Depot, etc. A mandatory fee schedule should be created to fund at least 4 full time inspectors positions, 4 full time secretarial positions and office space, computers, vehicles, training, lab testing expenses and other support and equipment necessary to field a team of monitors. All hydrocarbon operations shall be required to contribute. The inspectors shall have the authority to shut down any operation they deem unsafe. The old SB County Petroleum services officer was a former oil patch employee who rarely was in the field. and was far to close to the interests of his former employers in my opinion.

    Reply

  • Raye Douglas

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    More, much more, must be done to forever switch us over to safe, clean renewable energy. Oil is finite anyway. Better to just leave it in the dust now. Man is just so destructive to our planet earth. Will we ever learn before it’s too late?

    Reply

  • Gisele Vasquez

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    Yes we need oil and gas and apparently as voters the revenue issue trumps halting more drilling.
    I wonder how our local government would feel about that issue if the spill was somewhere more insight of the cruise ship tourists? If it’s about money then the oil companies should be forced to enact way more rigid security measures. No automatic shutoff valve? that’s criminal. Our local government needs to do better and so do we, the voters.
    Not to make light of this horrific, disgusting injury to our beautiful waters and wildlife, but if Californians can actually pass a ban on pàté because of the inhuman force feeding of ducks and geese can we seriously not force these oil companies to treat our environment with respect.
    Do we want to live in a wasteland?do we as voters not care about oil drenched wildlife, contaminated water and soil?
    What is wrong with us? Are we just too busy buying apps?

    Reply

  • Gloria Roman and Bill Terry

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    Thank You, Keep up the good Work

    Reply

  • enorse

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    All happy oil and gas operations are alike; every unhappy oil and gas operation is unhappy in its own way.

    Reply

  • Gail Marshall

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    Well said, Linda. Thank you for your guidance now and in the past years.

    Reply

  • Heidi Schulz

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    Thanks Linda. I’m watching spill developments closely here in Park City, wishing I was there to help Gail with her filming and support EDC. What tragic timing for the whales and their babies as they innocently hug the coast on their northern migration. Good luck, Heidi

    Reply

  • Barbara

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    Thanks for this, and the great photo. Keep up your good work, EDC, wWE NEED YOU!

    Reply

  • Cliff Ishii

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    Linda Krop: how many other pipe lines do not have automatic shut off valves.

    Reply

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