A Recognizable Oil Platform Off Santa Barbara Will Soon Be Shut for Good

A major spill in ‘69 changed California’s approach to fossil fuels.

The presence of platforms off the coast of California once promised a rich future of fossil fuel production for the Golden State. But after the devastating 1969 spill in the waters off Santa Barbara drew public consternation and national attention, those massive machines lost favor and new steps were taken to prevent new ones from being constructed in both local and federal waters.

Fifty years later, Platform Holly, one of 27 oil platforms between Huntington Beach and Point Arguello, will shut down after its most recent owner filed for bankruptcy almost two years ago. Seventeen miles from the infamous well that spilled 80,000 barrels of oil into the Pacific, Holly lingers like a “rusty ghost ship,” a visual reminder of a very different era in California energy policy.

According to the LA Times, “Holly joins six other oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel scheduled to be permanently shut down and possibly removed, the result of aging oil fields and a changing political and economic environment that once supported the highest concentration of platforms in the state.

“For nearly five decades, these ungainly structures have earned a nearly iconic, inescapable status in the California landscape. Legend has it that Holly, seen at night from the beach at Isla Vista, inspired Doors singer Jim Morrison to write ‘The Crystal Ship,’ and drivers following the coast from Gaviota to La Conchita might understand why.”

You can read more about Holly, its future and the cost to close it down here.

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