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New offshore drilling poses grave risk to California’s birds and cherished way of life

“The story of every oil spill in recent history has been written in images of dead and dying birds.”

Photos of oiled birds are a sad feature of every oil disaster. This is from the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.

San Francisco, CA – Responding to President Trump’s executive order seeking to expand new oil drilling off the California coast, representatives of Audubon California harshly criticized any such effort as an unnecessary and irresponsible risk to California’s natural treasures.

“The story of every oil spill in recent history has been written in images of dead and dying birds,” said Mike Lynes, Audubon California’s director of public policy. “We learned in 1969 that drilling off our beautiful coasts wasn’t worth the gamble, and we’ve been regularly proven right since. We’ll side with the people of California and fight any effort to expand drilling.”

Californians have not forgotten the massive oil spill off the shores of Santa Barbara in 1969 that sparked the movement to ban offshore drilling in the state and had impacts across the U.S. The spill covered hundreds of square miles of ocean, blackened more than 30 miles of beach, and killed thousands of birds.

The Santa Barbara spill led directly to the Congress’ passing of the National Environmental Policy Act (1969) and the state’s own California Environmental Quality Act (1970) – and is often credited with sparking the modern conservation movement.

“We need to be willing to learn from history and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past,” Lynes added. “Time and time again, accidents and spills have demonstrated that offshore drilling in California is unnecessary and dangerous. This is not about sensible economic development, it’s about the crass exploitation of natural resources in a way that threatens California’s birds, marine life, and fishing industry – and our truly Californian way of life.”

About Audubon California 

Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 50,000 members in California and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society. More information is available at


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