Is Big Oil Dead in Santa Barbara?
The Tides Have Turned Against ExxonMobil, Cat Canyon, and Offshore Platforms
By Indy Staff | January 20, 2022
Come hell or high water, Santa Barbarans will mark the anniversary of the massive oil spill that erupted off the coast of Carpinteria 53 years ago on January 28. The disaster, we constantly remind ourselves, gave birth to the modern environmental movement. Even President Richard Nixon, who owned a coastal getaway of his own in San Clemente, said it shocked the nation’s conscience. We also observe the date to remind ourselves how far we still have to go.
But this year, we take the opportunity to meditate on developments so wildly unlikely they would not have been imaginable even a few years ago. Oil platforms — immovable anchors on our horizon — are now being decommissioned. Three proposed onshore projects that would have generated roughly 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases a year are all but dead. And a company as seemingly omnipotent as ExxonMobil appears on the brink of being shut down for the indefinite future.
It’s still too soon for anyone to proclaim the death of big oil. The vastness of Santa Barbara County’s petrochemical reserves makes such claims tenuous at best. When oil prices rebound, so too will industry interest. But in the meantime, the tables appear to be turning, the tide to be shifting. Instead of Big Oil projects off the coast, we’re hearing now for the first time about Big Wind. We just might be entering a new day.