Santa Barbara–Everybody’s Mistake

This program examines the controversial 1969 off-shore oil leak near Santa Barbara and demonstrates how the blame belongs not only to the oil companies, but to government, scientific, and civic parties as well.


The Union Oil platform Alpha oil spill
, though nowhere near the largest on record (not even at that time) affected the environment, certainly, but its long-term effects were greater. This event expanded the environmental movement in California, in particular in the Santa Barbara area–and these are only a few:
* A ban on new offshore drilling was instated in CA, which lasted for 16 years.
* New regulations on oil platform methods were instituted.
* The California Coastal Commission, GOO (get oil out), and Environmental Defense Center were formed, and UC Santa Barbara started an Environmental Studies program.
* The galvanized popular opinion and heavy media coverage may have helped the subsequent year’s forming of the EPA.
* The Channel Islands were declared a National Park in 1980.

Settlement money had made it possible to maintain their ecosystems of the animals and birds affected with a greater degree of care and oversight, and the awareness of the issues strengthened public support for wildlife care.

There is a lot of overlap between this episode and “Of Broccoli and Pelicans and Celery and Seals“: they both deal with how marine and avian life around Santa Barbara was faring, in this case, what the effects of the 1969 oil spill had on, in particular, birds in the environment.