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.


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.


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.


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.


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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.





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


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.


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!!


350 Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara News-Press is Anti-Environment


The News Press has a right to choose what stances they take and who writes their editorials. Likewise, residents of Santa Barbara have a right to object when that choice runs counter to our community values.

The News Press editorial writer, Andy Caldwell, has been attacking environmentalists, conservation efforts, renewable energy and climate science nearly every week, sometimes on a daily basis.

  • ·         He attacked the pope, claiming poverty is a personal choice. 1
  • ·         He published a Christmas editorial arguing that efforts to save the planet cause world wars, ethnic cleansing & the holocaust. 2
  • ·         He attacked a faith organization for their concern about climate change.3
  • ·         He attacked politicians for setting limits on pollution from oil development.4
  • ·         He linked environmentalism with Nazi eugenics and theories that, “justify allowing millions of people to starve to death.” 5
  • ·         Editorial after editorial claims that “the climate has not yet changed” and that “warming that is no longer observable.”6
  • ·         He claims climate change educators are “your enemy”7 who want you to live “without windows”8 and “toasters.”7

Our analysis of a three month period found that 85% of opinion pieces in the News Press regarding the oil and fossil fuel industry were in favor and 80% regarding the renewable energy industry were negative.

It is one thing to have a regular pro-oil contributor or publish misinformation about climate change. It is yet another thing to have anti-environmentalism be your primary editorial cause. Caldwell has attacked nearly every environmental organization in town.

If you, like most Santa Barbarans, take pride in our environmental stewardship, please keep this hostile editorial stance in mind the next time you consider reading, advertising in or distributing the Santa Barbara News Press.

1 “Pontificating on poverty in a vaccum of values” 2/2/14; 2 “What child is this?” 12/25/13; 3 “Today is all they have” 10/20/13; 4 “How to run a royal railroad” 12/27/13;  5 “The evil sire of the environmental movement” & “The origin of environmentalism: Not what you think”; 6 “95% certain or hilariously incoherent?” 10/9/13; 7 “Coal banned from Christmas stockings” 12/22/13; 8 Environmental pretenders holed up in hypocrisy 12/29/13