Students host UC-wide “Human Oil Spill”

Press Release |

This afternoon the California Public Interest Research Group, also known as CALPIRG students, hosted a performance to illustrate the dangers of oil and gas drilling in California. Oil and gas drilling has been linked to water contamination and earthquakes, and is linked to public health impacts like asthma, respiratory illnesses, and cancer, especially in communities living in close proximity to these sites. While oil companies are fighting to begin new drilling projects in Cat Canyon and off-shore, students across California are speaking out against these dangerous practices.

Dozens of students across the state joined in today’s UC-Wide Human Oil Spill by dressing in black and lying down in highly populated areas at eight UCs as a metaphorical oil spill. At UC Santa Barbara, students read poetry about why clean air matters to them. Students from several environmental organizations on campus gave speeches about why they’re invested in this issue. 

“The ban fracking campaign in CALPIRG was started at the beginning of this quarter in response to Governor Gavin Newsom releasing his moratorium on high pressure steam injection. Overnight the environmental community celebrated the moratorium but we were saddened to hear the moratorium did not cover fracking or cyclic steam injection. The moratorium only covered four sites of high pressure steam injection: two of which are already shut down, one has no new plans for new drilling and we don’t know the status of the fourth. Since then, students across the state from the campuses of UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC San Diego mobilized to collect over 60 student leader sign-on’s and organize 3 Gaslands Documentary Screenings. ” says Ian Espinoza in his speech to kick off the event. Ian is the deputy coordinator for the CALPIRG Phase Out Oil and Gas Drilling Campaign at UC Santa Barbara. 

“It is time to close this chapter of California’s oil-stained history.” adds Shawn from Surfrider Santa Barbara, “Fracking, in addition to health issues, increases the likelihood of an oil spill occurring. Oil spills are something we in Santa Barbara unfortunately have experience with. The Refugio Oil Spill of 2015 caused over 100,000 gallons of oil to pour into our ocean and the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969 is the third largest our country has ever seen.”

Referring to the local Plains Replacement Pipeline Project and the ExxonMobil trucking project, Stephanie Prufer said, “Here in Isla Vista, we need to let Supervisor Joan Hartman know that we don’t want any more dirty oil, not in trucks, not in pipelines, not on our beaches.”

Dozens of students showed their support by coming to the event, taking pictures with ban drilling posters, and writing emails to Senator Gavin Newsom urging him to place a ban on oil and gas drilling in California.

Governor Gavin Newsom has historically been a leader on environmental issues. This is our chance to protect our communities and future generations. CALPIRG’s Phase Out Oil Drilling as part of the Last Chance Alliance urges the governor to phase out oil and gas drilling in the state, create a public health protection site around existing drilling sites with a 2,500 foot buffer zone, and create a just transition for workers to move from fossil fuels to clean energy. The campaign will continue to build student support for a ban through petitions and coalition building on campus to encourage our governor to lead us into a green future. 

CALPIRG Students is a statewide student organization that works to defend the public interest.