Richard Nixon photo

Remarks Following Inspection of Oil Damage at Santa Barbara Beach

March 21, 1969

Mr. Mayor, Senator Lagomarsino, and all of the other people who have conducted me on this tour:

I appreciate the opportunity to see the damage and, secondly, to hear your very strong convictions with regard to what ought to be done to avoid this happening in the future.

I think that the State of California is very fortunate to have the Senator, to have a man who is very vigorously speaking up for the idea that all of us are concerned about here: to see that this area, one of the most beautiful areas of California, and the people of this area who have a special concern about this, will never be subjected to this kind of disaster in the future.

I was particularly interested in the Senator's resolution which suggests that, whatever Federal regulations are adopted, there might be a joint State and Federal supervision of those regulations to be sure that they are adhered to. I will present this to the Committee when I go back.

SENATOR LAGOMARSINO. I might say, Mr. President, that this is the present situation on the onshore Federal property, Bureau of Land Management.

THE PRESIDENT. So you are simply suggesting that this be the case with regard to rights.

As all of you are aware, the Secretary of the Interior yesterday issued regulations that cover this area and also offshore drilling generally that are far more stringent than any that ever existed before.

That only indicates that the previous ones in the past have been inadequate.

Had the regulations which the Secretary issued yesterday been in effect at the time this disaster occurred, it would not have happened. I am, however, aware of the fact that the Mayor and Senator and others have suggested that this particular area is one that opposes any drilling whatever by the State or the Federal Government because of not only what has happened here, but because of the tremendous concern that this area be preserved for the future, not only the physical beauty we see in front of us, but also the potential beauty of the sea and all the beaches.

I shall, of course, consider this proposal. I will discuss it with the Secretary of the Interior and others who are concerned.

I can only say in conclusion that speaking as a Californian--and speaking as one who, when I was in high school and college and used to drive along these beaches, and in fact before my wife and I were married, when we used to drive all the way up from Whittier and down to Santa Barbara and down these beaches--that I have a special feeling in my heart for this part of the State and of the Nation.

I recognize the tremendous interest of the people here to preserve this beauty, and it will be our responsibility to see that the regulations that the Federal Government adopts are adequate.

I believe that the Secretary of the Interior has gone a long way and, I trust, far enough to deal with the problems. The representatives of the city and the county believe it is not as far as it should be. I will take that into consideration, too.

One other point I should add: What is involved here, and it is sad that it is necessary that Santa Barbara has to be the example that had to bring this to the attention of the American people, but what is involved is something much bigger than Santa Barbara; what is involved is the use of our resources of the sea and the land in a more effective way and with more concern for preserving the beauty and the natural resources that are so important to any kind of society that we want for the future.

I don't think we have paid enough attention to this. All of us believe that, all of us who have watched America grow as it has grown so explosively since World War II.

Looking toward the end of the century in the next 25 years--and the decisions we make now will affect the next 25 years--that is why I have set up within the Cabinet a Cabinet group for the environment 1 which will consider not only problems like this, but the broader problems like the use of our resources in a way that will see that we have all the material progress that we need, but that we have that material progress not at the cost of the destruction of all those things of beauty without which all the material progress is meaningless.

This is what we believe, and I think that the Santa Barbara incident has frankly touched the conscience of the American people. It made headlines in Santa Barbara. I can assure you it made headlines in Washington and New York and all over this Nation.

As a result of that, we are all thinking, in this administration, of this problem and we are going to do a better job than we have done in the past. It is up to the Federal Government to provide the leadership, and I know in the State here we will have all the cooperation of the State and the city.

1 The Environmental Quality Council and the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality were established by Executive Order 11472 of May 29, 1969.

Note: The President spoke at 3:55 p.m. on the beach near Santa Barbara, Calif. The mayor of Santa Barbara was Gerald Firestone. Robert J. Lagomarsino was California State senator for the 24th district.

The President's visit included an aerial tour of the damaged area.

Richard Nixon, Remarks Following Inspection of Oil Damage at Santa Barbara Beach Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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