A two-week campaign to prevent the proliferation of offshore oil drilling will conclude today with a grooming of local beaches.
A rally, intended to draw attention to a proposal permitting new oil drilling leases off the South Coast and in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, will begin in Storke Plaza at 2 p.m. The rally will then move to a beach cleanup stretching from Campus Point to Coal Oil Point, and includes short speeches by Get Oil Out Chair Diane Conn and UCSB Ocean and Coastal Policy Director Dr. Michael McGinnis.
The California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG), the Surfrider Foundation and Environmental Affairs Board (EAB), who all sponsored the event, collaborated in the past two weeks on the "Save Our Coast Campaign," gathering signatures opposing new oil drilling contracts. The Mineral Management Services (MMS) – a federal agency of the Department of the Interior, which oversees private use of natural resource proposals – is currently accepting public comment and petitions before granting new leases from 2002 to 2007, CalPIRG Program Director Jennette Gayer said.
"At 2 p.m. we’re going to gather and have a rally around keeping oil drills off of the [South] Coast," she said. "Three groups, CalPIRG, Surfrider and EAB are petitioning against this. We’re aiming for about 2,500 signatures. We’ve basically been taking clipboards all over campus and we’ve also been announcing it in classes. The public comment deadline is next Wednesday, the 22nd."
Gayer said the Surfrider Foundation, EAB and CalPIRG decided to work together in order to attract more participants.
"[CalPIRG] has done two cleanups already this year. Surfrider and EAB do a lot individually. We combined forces so a lot of people will come and learn about what’s going on," she said. "We do it, number one, so people can play a role in cleaning up public places. When they help clean, they think twice as hard about littering and where trash ends up."
Conn said she plans to address the extension of existing oil drilling leases off the South Coast and the importance of the public opinion concerning these leases to the MMS.
"Part of what I’m going to talk about is not the new leases happening, but what is being developed on the existing 36 federal leases and new oil leasing proposals by Veneco, Nuevo and Arguello Inc.," she said. "Basically, in order to stop or reverse oil development. … People need to communicate with the MMS and [government] representatives to say that they oppose oil and it shouldn’t be a long-term investment."