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Santa Barbara Oil Spill Worsens Dramatically

Santa Barbara Oil Spill Worsens Dramatically thumbnail

What was originally thought to be around 21,000 barrels is now over 105,000 barrels of oil spilled on to the pristine beaches of Santa Barbara County. On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County to free up resources to respond to the spill, which as the following horrible images show, is far worse than it initially appeared. After seeing all of that, it is no wonder that’s Charles Kennedy believes this latest oil pipeline spill could galvanize environmentalist opposition.

Santa Barbara area oil and gas facilities


But the images of the cleanup are awful…

Source: LA Times, The Telegraph

*  *  *

After seeing all of that, it is no wonder that’s Charles Kennedy believes this latest oil pipeline spill could galvanize environmentalist opposition.

A pipeline in California broke and spilled oil into the Pacific Ocean on May 19.


Oil washed up on the shores in Santa Barbara County with the slick extending an estimated 4 miles. While data is preliminary, the pipeline may have spilled 21,000 gallons, or 500 barrels, perhaps even more. For now, it is unclear what caused the pipeline to rupture.


The pipeline, owned by Plains All American Pipeline, was constructed in 1991 and has a daily throughput of about 150,000 barrels. “Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact. Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of all involved. No injuries have been reported at this time,” the company said in a statement released early on May 20.


Plains All American is a midstream company that owns and operates pipelines, oil and gas storage facilities, and rail terminals. It operates several crude oil storage facilities in California along with the implicated Las Flores to Gaviota pipeline that runs through Santa Barbara County. But it has a much larger footprint in Texas and Louisiana, as well as Alberta, where it has a wider network of crude oil pipelines and storage facilities.


Plains All American says on its website that it “committed to designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining its pipelines in a safe and reliable manner, and to meeting or exceeding safety standards.”


The oil sheen in the Pacific Ocean evokes memories of the catastrophic 1969 disaster resulting from a blowout of an offshore oil platform owned by Union Oil Company. The accident led to 3 million gallons of oil escaping into the ocean.


The incident was a momentous one as it sparked the modern environmental movement and contributed to the passage of several federal environmental laws a few years later, including the Clean Water Act. California has not allowed drilling within its maritime limits since then, and has fought drilling at the federal level as well.


The latest pipeline spill will no doubt give more ammo to pipeline opponents, perhaps rekindling arguments over the Keystone XL pipeline. But for now it is too early to tell if there will be any other policy implications.


18 Comments on "Santa Barbara Oil Spill Worsens Dramatically"

  1. Plantagenet on Thu, 21st May 2015 8:41 pm 

    Where have all the sea lions gone
    Long time passing
    Where have all the sea lions gone
    Long time ago
    Where have all the sea lions gone
    Covered in oil every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

  2. Apneaman on Thu, 21st May 2015 8:55 pm 

    Dolphin Deaths Linked To 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

    Unusual adrenal and lung conditions seen in dead dolphins in the months after the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill point to the oil as the cause. Steve Mirsky reports.

  3. Speculawyer on Thu, 21st May 2015 9:28 pm 

    A sad thing about this is that there is some easy light oil right off the California coast but with this spill, they oil industry probably just lost any chance they will have to drill it for the next 20 years or so.

  4. GregT on Thu, 21st May 2015 9:31 pm 

    That’s OK spec, because in another 20 years or so, the consequences of burning all of the oil we have already, will far outweigh the desire for more.

  5. Northwest Resident on Fri, 22nd May 2015 1:48 am 

    This is a perfect metaphor for the times we live in. Clinging cowardly to a lifestyle which we have no hope of maintaining, gushing toxins and deadly pollution into the biosphere with every sorry day that BAU desperately strives to stay alive just one more day. The industrial and high-tech consumption-based economy we endure is swirling down the crapper, and its going to suck as much as possible of whatever’s left that’s good along with it.

  6. peakyeast on Fri, 22nd May 2015 5:15 am 

    Hey dont worry. All humans can stand on just one tiny island – like Bornholm. So who cares about a little epic destruction by boundless incompetence?

    That you got your home ruined and a lot of useless animals died – who cares?

    If you are a tree-hugging conspiracy theorist then you care!

  7. Kenz300 on Fri, 22nd May 2015 9:02 am 

    One more reason to speed up the transition to alternative energy sources.

    Bring on the electric, flex-fuel, hybrid, biofuel, biodiesel, CNG, LNG and hydrogen fueled vehicles.

    Better yet we need to increase the use of bicycles for short distance transportation and increase the availability of mass transit. There once was a time when trolleys were common for transportation in cities.

    Climate Change is real…. the sooner we transition away from fossil fuels the better.

  8. Plantagenet on Fri, 22nd May 2015 10:51 am 


    You left out high speed rail and light rail for the cities.

    People forget that Obama promised in 2008 to build high speed rail in the US and promptly turned his back on what the US actually needs. IF the lying dog had spent the 800 billion stimulus on building infrastructure instead of just lying about it, we’d have high speed rail right now.

    Go to Europe sometime—see how a modern society uses high speed rail and light rail in the cities to cut their carbon use.

  9. Davy on Fri, 22nd May 2015 11:24 am 

    High speed rail is a joke planter. It will quickly suffer entropic decay. The only rail that will matter is slow rail. We will likely see a salvage and cannibalization of existing rail into a hybrid of passenger and freight in short runs between neighboring cities once the collapse has destroyed the global system.

  10. BobInget on Fri, 22nd May 2015 1:17 pm 

    Now hear this—Liquid spill on isle #4..

    Note early clean up neighborhood volunteers in flip flops are covered in oil. These guys in hazmat suits are all bright white and standing around with a single shovel to share among them.

  11. Beery on Fri, 22nd May 2015 1:29 pm 

    “Charles Kennedy believes this latest oil pipeline spill could galvanize environmentalist opposition.”

    Yeah, because this time it’s hitting people who matter. This is not Yahooville, like the Gulf of Mexico or Alaska – this is a place where rich folks like Clint Eastwood live.

  12. Perk Earl on Fri, 22nd May 2015 2:15 pm 

    Bob, that’s the difference between working and a photo-op, lol.

    I partied with some friends at Santa Barbara University graduating in the early 80’s and there was still balls of oil on those beaches post oil spill from the 60’s. That stuff is ubiquitous. They’re still finding oil in Valdez. We still don’t have the number of striped bass during their annual spawn in SF bay from an oil spill in 1970.

    Yet, Obama approved Shell to drill for oil in the Artic?! A cold location in which oil won’t break down like it does in warmer locations.

  13. DMyers on Fri, 22nd May 2015 7:56 pm 

    “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.”

    Murphy, you got it right, again.

  14. apneaman on Sat, 23rd May 2015 12:20 am 

    Dahr Jamail: Destroying What Remains

    How the US Navy plans to war game the Arctic.

  15. apneaman on Sat, 23rd May 2015 12:32 am 

    Here’s What the Feds Were Investigating Before 9/11. And It’s Not Al-Qaeda.

    “Just three months before the September 11th attacks, U.S. anti-terrorism resources weren’t focused on Al-Qaeda — they were also being spent trying to build a case against environmental activists for “weapons of mass destruction” based on website posts.”

  16. Makati1 on Sat, 23rd May 2015 3:16 am 

    Sounds like Giedi Prime: “The planet was of average temperatures and maintained a low level of photosynthesis. This low level of photosynthesis was largely due to the heavy industrialization of the planet under the Harkonnens (banksters). … the planet sported factories, arenas, and many cities. The arenas were used to hold spectacles for the populace, including gladiatorial events. … much of the planet’s population lived a meager and oppressed existence due to the harsh rule of the Harkonnens (elite). Many natives of Giedi Prime were used as slave labor to work the machines of heavy industry that occupied so much of the planet’s surface. … As part of Caladani administration of Giedi Prime, most of the machines of industry were dismantled, and the planet’s natural ecosystem was regenerated by large-scale replanting that lasted over thousands of years. Despite this however, some five thousand years after Harkonnen rule had ended, oily residue could still be found in the planet’s soil.”

    Fiction made real…

  17. Dredd on Sat, 23rd May 2015 11:23 am 

    Are we in good hands with Oil-State?

  18. Richard Ralph Roehl on Sun, 24th May 2015 4:31 am 

    Hey! No big deal! The Santa Barbara coastline suffers these man made ‘mishaps’ every 20 years or so. However the ongoing radioactive contamination horror emanating from the Fukushima time-bomb nuke plants in Japan… might exacerbate the problem this time. And the aging Diablo Canyon time-bomb nuke a few miles up the coast could blow at anytime.

    What? Me worry? No problem! The mandatory vaccination laws to soon be implementated in California will make everything wonder-fool again.

    Well… gotta fix breakfast now.

    Yesss! We’re having GMO frankinfood pancakes made with tap water… treated with sodium fluoride, an extremely toxic and corrosive waste product derived from aluminum smeltering plants, nuclear fission time-bomb plants and other industrial applications. The cakes will be served with GMO corn syrup… and ‘I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-real-butter’.

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