Corporate versus Community Power: A Santa Barbara Story

Richard Flacks


Fifty years ago, a massive oil well blowout and subsequent oil spill triggered community resistance to oil company operations in Santa Barbara county and its surrounding waters. The county has had surprising success in regulating and reducing oil development. That success is due to the combined effectds of grassroots mobilization, longterm organization, and the availability of state agencies and laws that legitimize community  participation in corporarte development approvals. Despite Santa Barbara's relative affluence, its ongoing battle with the oil industry may be useful for formulating a theory of community empowerment globally.


Oil corporations; Community power; Environmental movement

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