In a Twitter post, Newt Gingrich falsely claimed that there have been no oil spills in the waters off Santa Barbara since 1969. In fact, there were at least two oil spills reported in or near the Santa Barbara Channel in just the last few months, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
In a March 2 Twitter post, Fox News contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) wrote that his wife, Callista, "pointed out flying into [S]anta [B]arbara you can see the oil rigs off shore," and asserted, "Ironically they have had no spill since 1969." In fact, there were at least two oil spills reported in or near the Santa Barbara Channel in just the last few months, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, including one spill in mid-February and another in December 2008 that required a coordinated cleanup effort by the Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), and the company responsible for the spill.
The Ventura County Star reported on December 9, 2008:
More than 1,000 gallons of oil spilled Sunday into the Santa Barbara Channel from a hole in a pipeline on a platform six miles offshore of Santa Barbara.
Boats used skimmers Sunday and Monday to clean up the oil sheen that stretched more than 1.5 miles from Platform A and was headed toward the waters off Ventura County, officials said.
In a December 8, 2008, press release, the Coast Guard reported:
The California Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), the U.S. Coast Guard and DCOR, LLC are responding to an oil spill from a platform six miles off the coast of Santa Barbara County. The three entities have established a unified command to manage cleanup and recovery efforts. DCOR, LLC reported the spill from its Platform A yesterday after a finger-sized hole was found in an oil pump line four feet above the waterline.
DCOR reports that 1,134 gallons (27 barrels) of crude oil has been released into the water and 882 gallons (21 barrels) has been recovered by their oil spill response organization, Clean Seas. The source of the leak has been secured. A sheen approximately 1.5 miles in length remains on the water southeast of the platform. Its trajectory is being monitored.
DCOR, LLC made notification to oil spill regulators at 8 a.m. yesterday after discovering the sheen near the platform. The initial estimate was 30 gallons of high-gravity crude oil. DCOR conducted an over flight of the area shortly after discovering the sheen. At 6 a.m. this morning DCOR recalculated its initial estimate to 1,134 gallons and made follow-up notifications.
Additionally, on February 18, the Associated Press reported on an ExxonMobil spill that initially "was 10 feet wide and stretched for about a mile" off the Southern California coast and threatened to "seep into the Santa Barbara Channel":
A mixture of oily lubricant and water was still leaking from an ExxonMobil platform two days after the first report of a spill off the Southern California coast, federal and state officials said Wednesday.
Initial reports indicated the leak came from a deck drainage tank where rainwater, lubricants and fluids drain into a sump unit, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Stephanie Young. She said the company reported the leak Monday and was still working Wednesday night to stop the mixture from seeping into the Santa Barbara Channel.
It was unclear how much of the mixture -- which Young described as water mixed with a light lubricant, not crude oil -- had spilled.
The spill at one point was 10 feet wide and stretched for about a mile, said John Romero, a spokesman for the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that owns Platform Harmony and leases it to ExxonMobil.
From Gingrich's March 2 Twitter post: