Environment: Oil on Troubled Waters

The oil that tarred the Santa Barbara beaches last year is largely gone, but the memory still galls the residents. Last week they commemorated the first anniversary of the blowout with speeches and demonstrations attended by ecologists, conservationists and politicians like Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Jesse Unruh. Santa Barbara is convinced that another accident may be as close as the drilling platforms six miles offshore.

The earthquake-prone floor of the Santa Barbara Channel is such a geologically unstable morass of cracks and fissures that it may be difficult to prevent future oil-well blowouts. Moreover, Interior Secretary Walter J. Hickel recently approved a resumption...

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