On June 4, nearly 600 supporters of the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) celebrated the organization’s 40th anniversary at its annual Green and Blue fundraiser at Rancho La Patera & Stow House in Goleta.
On this pleasant, sunny afternoon, guests sauntered around the lovely, expansive grounds, mingling and checking out the extensive silent auction offerings and enjoying music by Bruce Goldish, drinks and tasty food.
Guests then were seated in an open-air tent where Board Vice President Dave Davis and Marine Conservation Program Director Kristen Hislop shared some of EDC’s more significant victories in the past couple of years. These included the denial by the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors of the proposed Phillips 66 Rail Spur, two federal court rulings against the “No-Otter Zone,” and the decommissioning of Platform Holly. EDC had been working for years opposing the expansion of the platform.
Auctioneer Jim Nye led an extensive live auction and then Executive Director Owen Bailey delivered an inspiring message of hope in these difficult times. He resolved that “while Washington is moving backwards, we are not going back.” Bailey emphasized “the important work being done at the state and local levels across the country and the ability we have to make changes right here, in our home communities, that make a significant and lasting difference.”
Chief Counsel Linda Krop thanked EDC’s founders, several of whom were at the event, including founding Executive Director Marc McGinnes and founding Board Member Paul Relis.
In an interview, Bailey shared how exciting a time this is — to be celebrating 40 years since the EDC was formed as a response to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. Throughout this time period, EDC’s mission has remained constant: representing other nonprofit organizations and it is the only nonprofit public-interest environmental law firm between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In sharing how he views EDC’s never-ending work, Bailey quoted conservationist David Brower: “When we win, we have to win every time; they only have to win once.” He explained that once something is developed, it’s developed, but when EDC wins a victory, more challenges can lie ahead. In discussing EDC’s quest to preserve wildlife, Bailey said he views this area as “the Galapagos of North America,” and wants to make people aware of the impact of our collective actions on endangered species.
The Environmental Defense Center, working primarily in the tri-county area, engages in education, advocacy, and legal action. Its focus areas are the protection of the Santa Barbara Channel, ensuring clean water, preserving open space and wildlife, and addressing climate and energy. EDC has been in the forefront in the battle against offshore fracking and acidizing. It helped preserve more than 100,000 acres of open space across the tri-counties; retired 40 offshore oil leases; led a coalition in response to the Refugio Oil Spill; and played a lead role in protecting endangered blue whales, sea otters, and steelhead trout. Since its founding, EDC has represented nearly 120 nonprofits.
For more information about EDC, go to environmentaldefensecenter.org.
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By Gail Arnold