Visit by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sparks protests

Zinke spoke at private Reagan Ranch Center event

Interior Secretary's visit to Santa...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - About 200 people held signs and chanted "This is what democracy looks like" as they waited outside the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, on Monday evening, for the arrival of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but they never saw him in person.

Zinke may have used a side door to get to his invitation-only speaking engagement.

About a dozen people supporting his visit held a counter-protest. The demonstrations remained peaceful, despite the vocal crowd.

Santa Barbara Police allowed protesters to fill the sidewalks and the parking lot in front of the entrance after all the guests had arrived.

Bud Bottoms who witnessed the aftermath of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill that led to Earth Day and the creation of "Get Oil Out" (GOO) called the turn out fantastic.

Linda Brophy said she attended because she has been working on environmental issues for decades.

"I think leasing out our public land is wrong and the destruction of national parks, destruction of the coast is wrong for oil exploration and I think we are going down a bad road," Said Brophy.

Gary Vandeman held up a sign with the words "Drill, pump, thrive."  He didn't mind being outnumbered.  

 "I think you are looking at an endangered species in Santa Barbara, a conservative," said Vandeman.

Guests leaving the Reagan Ranch Center after the protest said they enjoyed hearing Zinke speak.

Former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Mike Stoker said he is confident there will be drilling on Federal lands based on sound science.

Bobbi McGinnis, a local leader in the Make America Great Again movement, said Zinke talked about environmental problems caused by too many regulations.

McGinnis said Zinke also talked about his visit to Santa Cruz Island earlier in the day. The Secretary was not available for an interview, but guests said he will be back.

Zinke's wife, Lolita Hand Zinke, is from Santa Barbara.


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