UC Santa Barbara students and Santa Barbara residents held a Halloween-themed protest in front of the Santa Barbara County Administration building on Oct. 22. Participants dressed in costumes and marched to Santa Barbara City Hall to demand greater support from state and federal governments on environmentally favorable policies.

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Participating students were represented in part by the UCSB Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) and the Sunrise Movement, and residents were represented by local action groups including the Society of Fearless Grandmothers-SB and the Santa Barbara Community Action Network.

Co-chair of the EAB and 3rd year Environmental Studies major and Philosophy minor Kat Lane — costumed as the Cat in the Hat — celebrated environmental wins since the last demonstration during the protest, while also detailing current and future policy goals of the organization. 

“It was really cool because we had put in a lot of work going and talking to the commissioners [on the Santa Barbara Planning Commission], making sure that student voices were heard and trying to incorporate that, and we were actually able to get one of the swing votes,” Lane said.

The Planning Commission decided in a 3-2 vote to not recommend an oil trucking project, though it does not rule on oil transported outside of pipelines. 

Lane also praised a new policy from the California Geologic Energy Management Agency put into place by Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration, which enacted a 3,200-foot buffer zone between gas and oil wells and community sites such as schools, hospitals or residential areas.

“[The decision] was important because, when zoning happens it’s a bunch of white people saying, ‘Oh, look, I can go into this underserved BIPOC neighborhood, [and] just give them all the trash and stuff which is incredibly unjust.’ Everyone deserves clean air, clean water, [a] clean environment and the ability to not scrape by, to thrive,” Lane said.

Lane detailed EAB’s goals, like the Biden administration’s approval for a marine sanctuary for the Chumash people and for CalSTRS — the state benefit provider for California’s educators and the largest retirement fund in the United States — to divest $6 billion from fossil fuel industries. She also expressed solidarity with the March for Stolen Lives and Stolen Futures in Sacramento, which seeks racial justice in the context of the climate crisis.

Protesters marching down State Street expressed dismay toward the U.S. Senate’s inability to pass environmental portions of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan, chanting “No climate, no deal.” A protester in a costume of Jesus Christ, who identified solely as ‘Jesus,’ marched with a sign saying “Hey Manchin, what would Jesus do?” 

“We’re trying to get our piece of shit senator Joe Manchin to listen, and we’re trying to get our California Democrat senators to listen,” the protestor said during the march.  

“Change is possible in every moment, and you have power. You are all contained within the divine,” the protestor continued. 

Lane said that the EAB is coming together with many different groups and organizations on Nov. 5 to put pressure on the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is to be held in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.

A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the Oct. 28, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.