Get Oil In?: What’s this? Deal with the devil? Smoke the peace pipe with the oil guys down in Texas?

Look, I walked the black tide back in December, 1969, when the town formed GOO — Get Oil Out. And now GOO is greasing the skids so the boys from Houston can suck up more of that $110-a-barrel black gold?

I covered the 1969 oil platform blowout and spent a whole night rocking in a boat while anti-oil activists tried to block an oil barge. I’m looking through my copy of Headlines, a history of Santa Barbara told in headlines, 1855-1982. There are the photos of scum-filled shorelines and oil-covered birds.

This town was aroused like I’ve never seen it before or since. Our protest helped kick off the environmental movement and Earth Day. (As someone said to me today, “It’s my favorite planet.”)

As I read about this new deal allowing the Houston boys to do slant drilling from one of the hated platforms off Point Conception, all the environmental groups were cheering. Can this be good? So I phoned an old friend who’s labored in the enviro salt miles for many a decade.

I figured, if she’s for the deal, it must be OK. Turns out, she helped negotiate it, along with a handful of other women, with full approval of their boards. She doesn’t want her name mentioned. She ticked off a laundry list of reasons why it’s good for Santa Barbara County, including setting a date for removal of a bunch of offshore platforms that could have been out there for a long time.

Ironically, the skyrocketing price of oil — $110 a barrel at this writing — those Houston boys had a huge incentive to deal with the locals and start tapping that liquid gold from an existing platform. So we’re paying at the pump, but for once, getting a tiger in our tank.

Other reasons why this has got to be a good move for us: Two women who negotiated: Linda Krop, chief attorney of the Environmental Defense Center, who’s been fighting oil development here for over 20 years, and Joyce Howerton, former mayor of Lompoc, who is representing Citizens Planning Association. GOO was the third group involved in the negotiations.

One guy I don’t know is one of the boys from Houston, Steven Rusch, who’s been working in the Santa Barbara Channel oil patch for 30 years. Now VP of PXP (Plains Exploration and Production) he had the cool head and smarts to sit down and smoke the peace pipe with local enviros, feared throughout the oil industry as deal-killers and fierce opponents.

For chapter and verse about the deal, see Nick Welsh’s story in the Independent on April 17. At the end of Nick’s April 13 online version, an angry post pointed out that the 200 million barrels of oil expected to be produced would also produce around 86 million tons of pollutants. “Carbon neutral?” scoffed the poster, using the pen name gaviotamilitia. “Who is pulling the leg?” But negotiators say that PXP will donate $1.5 million to local transit agencies for such things as hybrid buses so that PXP’s operations as such will be carbon-neutral.

We’ll learn more on Monday, April 21, when an environmental report on the offshore oil plan goes before the County Planning Commission.

Lost Trombone: The Santa Barbara Symphony was in fine form when I attended its all-Russian concert Saturday night. But a sour note sounded after the Symphony’s Sunday afternoon concert. A trombone player left his horn, in its case, by his car at about 5:15 p.m. while packing other things in the trunk. When he realized a few minutes later that he’d left the horn by the curb on first block of West Sola Street (across from the Arlington parking lot) it was gone. Please report any tips about where the instrument might be to the symphony office at 805-898-9386.

We All Make Mistakes, But: The News-Press in a B-1 headline Sunday called the Democratic presidential hopeful “Obamba.”


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