Santa Barbara- S County

Rally at UCSB against dirty oil

"It's kind of tricky for our county'

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Dozens of students and activists rallied for about an hour Thursday afternoon in front of Storke Tower at UCSB in an effort to keep anti-fracking efforts alive.

Oil companies and Santa Barbara County leaders and politicians were among the targets; so were the wallets of those in attendance.

"In the coming months there are three different companies that are, collectively between them, purposing over 700 new oil wells," said Emily Williams. "They'll be happening in North County."

Williams said her group, 350 SB, will put pressure on county supervisors when the item goes before the board, sometime between May and July.

"It's kind of tricky for our county because our county gets a lot of revenue from these projects," Williams said. "So at the same time, it's touting itself as a green area, on track to renewable energy but at the same time, we're getting all this money from further oil extraction."

The other big message during the demonstation: push elected officials for a full transition to renewable energy.

"We've always had Earth Day but we haven't pushed the envelope," said Santa Barbara City Councilman Jason Dominguez. "Other cities like Lancaster have more solar power than we do so there's a lot more that we can do and I think people are ready to do it."

Dominguez says he's committed to policies that will make it easier for homeowners and businesses to become more energy efficient.

Eric Villalobos, who is spearheading one of the newer groups on campus, says local activists are taking cues from hard-line protesters, including those at Standing Rock in North Dakota.

"It's going to take people actually physically stopping things from happening," said Eric Villalobos. "Physically stopping injustices from happening and for that we need bail money."

Villalobos is head organizer of the Student Activist Network and said the group is working on a community bail fund project for Isla Vista.

"So that we can incorporate acts of civil disobedience into our activism because that's what it takes now," said Villalobos. "If there is an injustice, it is our duty to stand in the way and block that injustice from happening."

Villalobos said money raised for the bail fund project will help get participating activists out of jail, when needed. Violent protests are not part of the organization's efforts.

"Block a road," Villalobos said. "If it's something like that, it's something around $300 dollars per person."

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