Environmental Defense Center – Playa de Santa Barbara Award for Environmental Stewardship
Shown in photograph: Owen Bailey, Alicia Roessler, Maggie Hall, Linda Krop, Kaleena Quarles, Brian Trautwein, Kristen Hislop, Betsy Weber and Chloe McConnell
The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) is celebrating its 40th Anniversary protecting and preserving our local, natural environment. To this day, EDC stands as the only nonprofit, public interest, environmental law firm between Los Angeles and San Francisco. One of only a handful of nonprofit organizations nationwide, EDC’s role is specialized even beyond this small number. EDC is unique due to the breadth of its work and its grassroots focus to empower individuals and organizations to participate in the processes that determine environmental protection and preservation. Founded as a response to the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, EDC advocates, educates, and provides legal services to community groups working to protect the environment throughout Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. Across its history, EDC has represented almost 120 different nonprofit organizations, providing free and low cost legal services to groups small and large, local and national. EDC selects cases and projects that will protect the Santa Barbara Channel, preserve local open spaces and wildlife, ensure clean water and advance action on issues of climate and energy.
Over the last 40 years, EDC staff and volunteers have led some of the most significant environmental efforts across our region, setting precedents and impacting policy decisions far beyond our region. Among its highest profile successes, EDC has helped permanently preserve more than 100,000 acres of exceptional open space including the local Carpinteria Bluffs, Hammonds Meadow, Douglas Family Preserve, Ellwood Mesa, and Sedgwick Reserve. EDC was also the lead organization responding to the devastating 2015 Refugio Oil Spill and continues working to this day to ensure our coast is fully restored to pre-spill conditions. They have worked to limit fatal ship-whale collisions, eliminate the outdated and damaging government policy barring southern sea otters from re-inhabiting southern California waters, and worked tirelessly to protect local creeks and help restore critically endangered southern California steelhead.
EDC also won significant victories to protect our marine waters from irresponsible fossil fuel projects, including the unprecedented and successful effort to retire 40 offshore oil leases, stopping three separate attempts to import Liquefied Natural Gas, and winning the first-ever environmental assessment for hydraulic fracturing and acidizing from offshore oil platforms. EDC has served as the lead organization working to stop dangerous oil trains from traveling through our coastal communities.