What We Do

SOS California is…

A non-profit organization.

Our Mission…

To reduce the environmental impact of natural gas and oil seep pollution upon our ocean, beaches and atmosphere through education and awareness.

Our Goal…

To alert the public to the magnitude of natural seep pollution in the Santa Barbara Channel, and to the availability of an invaluable resource to fund environmental cleanup and develop alternative energy sources. It is through collaboration with an informed public that we can build the bridge to a healthy and sustainable future.

An Educated Community Will Know That…

  • Extensive pollution is caused by natural oil and gas seeps.
  • Extraction of the underlying oil and gas reserves is a solution to the seepage problem.
  • Exploration and production of the reserves can be conducted in an environmentally safe manner.
  • Royalty revenues can fund the transition to alternative sources of energy.

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 2.15.32 PM






Primary Sources of Information

University of California, Santa Barbara


Learn More

The Facts

Every 12 months

approximately 86,000 barrels of oil

seep into the ocean along the Santa Barbara coast.


Do you know…

Natural oil seepage is the greatest source of hydrocarbon pollution in the ocean and atmosphere.

According to a study by the National Research Council (NRC) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences,

“natural seeps are the highest contributors of petroleum hydrocarbons to the marine environment. Of the total load of petroleum hydrocarbons discharged into the sea, natural seeps account for the largest load, nearly 61 percent of the total. In southern California, natural seeps represent 98 percent of oil inputs to the offshore zone. In fact, the extensive system of natural seeps off Coal Oil Point accounts for nearly two thirds of the total load received by coastal and offshore waters of the Pacific seaboard, including Hawaii. “

Do you know…

Offshore Santa Barbara has the second largest marine oil seeps in the world.

The largest natural oil and gas seeps in the Western Hemisphere lie in the Santa Barbara Channel. According to the California State Lands Commission, they comprise more than 1,200 of the over 2,000 active submarine seeps along the California coast. Half of these occur within 3 miles of an area called Coal Oil Point, located just west of Santa Barbara near the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus.Educating-Public

It is estimated that oil seepage for a single 6-mile stretch, including Coal Oil Point, averages 10,000 gallons of oil each day (240 barrels). Every 12 months about 86,000 barrels of oil seep into the ocean—the equivalent of the quantity of oil spilled in the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara. Since 1970, the quantity of oil that naturally seeps into the Santa Barbara Channel equals ~ 31 “1969” oil spills.


Fact – Seeps Are Natural Phenomena

Crude oil and natural gas seep naturally out of fissures in the ocean seabed and eroding sedimentary rock. These seeps are natural springs where liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons leak out of the ground (like springs that ooze oil and gas instead of water).

Learn More>>

Fact – Seeps Impact the Environment

Huge, natural seeps have been spewing oil and gas into the Santa Barbara Channel for centuries. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and other sources, the resulting tar was used by the Chumash and other native populations for waterproofing.

Learn More>>

Fact – Seeps Impact Marine Wildlife

Unknown-1Our coastal waters are home to rich and diverse marine environments. The areas offshore Santa Barbara support a great diversity of marine species, many of which are extremely rare and given special protection under federal and state law.

Learn More>>

Fact – Methane Emissions from Seeps Contribute to Global Warming

As seep bubbles rise to the ocean surface, substantial amounts of hydrocarbons dissolve in the water column, forming a subsurface gradient of dissolved hydrocarbons, principally methane. The remaining seep bubbles that do not dissolve continue to the surface and burst, releasing the gaseous components to the atmosphere.

Learn more>>

Learn More

A Solution


Only through education can Californians and Americans learn the truth about the massive amounts of natural oil and gas seep pollution coming from offshore Santa Barbara, California’s coastal areas. Since Native Americans first arrived in coastal California, approximately 800 million barrels of oil have seeped into the coastal environment. Peer-reviewed published reports document the connection between existing Santa Barbara offshore oil production and natural seep pollution reductions over the last 20 years and the larger natural seep pollution reduction potential through expanded offshore oil and gas production.


Oil & Gas SchematicAt right, the schematic shows a vertical slice through the Earth’s crust, with folded layers of sedimentary rocks holding oil and gas in the crest of an underground fold. http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/seeps/what.html

When the fold extends to the land (or sea) surface, a seep can occur. The schematic shows how natural seep oil is connected to the formations from which companies collect oil.

Public Awareness

Not many know the offshore oil industry safety record in California using new exploration and production technologies. There is a 38-year safety record of oil and gas production offshore Santa Barbara with less then 1,000 barrels spilled. By comparison, 2 million barrels of natural seepage occurred over the same time period.

  • New technology now allows slant drilling from land out into the ocean, or from existing offshore platforms or temporary offshore platforms out to a range of over 5 miles horizontally.
  • New California offshore oil and gas revenues can pay for California’s conversion to solar and renewable electricity and electric/plug-in vehicles and reductions in taxes for all Californians.

Economic Benefits



Policy Changes We Support

These policy changes will lead to cleaner statewide air and water quality, more renewable electricity and electric/plug-in car usage, lower taxes, lower fuel and natural gas prices, reduction or elimination of imported gas to California and fewer oil tankers entering California state waters.

  • Allowing new exploration and production of oil and gas resources within the offshore area of Santa Barbara County and adjacent Santa Barbara federal OCS waters.
  • Support studies to maximize oil production while maximizing additional natural oil and gas seepage pollution reductions off the Santa Barbara central coast.
  • Change California and federal regulations to allow already discovered but undeveloped Santa Barbara offshore oil and gas resources to be put into production in the near term.
  • Negotiate for California to retain the full fees and royalties for federal OCS leases and production revenue (18%) and dedicates royalties to fund solar thermal electricity, photovoltaics, wind energysources, electric/plug-in hybrid vehicle programs, and lowering Californian’s taxes. This funding will accelerate the build-out of the western U.S. solar and renewable energy infrastructure.
  • Negotiate a new royalty revenue and offshore oil/gas production and regulation agreement for Santa Barbara County. Significant new revenues will fund solar renewables and electric vehicle program rebates, county taxpayer reductions, wastewater treatment improvements and education programs.

Learn More

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the environmental impact

of natural gas and oil seep pollution upon our ocean, beaches and atmosphere through education and awareness.

News & Updates

Stay up-to-date with the California Coast

California Earthquake | The Big One

Posted by SOS California on May 19, 2016

As any reader of this blog knows, discussions of Santa Barbara’s natural oil seeps encompass a wide variety of subjects. SOS Founder Lad Handelman has a favorite among them – earthquakes.   Okay…we like current topics for this blog, and earthquakes have...

Learn More

Batteries Not Included

Posted by SOS California on May 11, 2016

I was watching Saturday Night Live a couple of weeks ago. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the host. One of her skits was a car commercial satire that surprised the hell out of me.   Why?   The commercial shows Ms. Louis-Dreyfus as the celebrity spokesperson for the...

Learn More

5 Best Tar Removers To Clean Your Surfboard | SOS California

Posted by SOS California on Apr 7, 2016

Yeah…we know. AND we know the production solution. Let’s say we try it again…and clean up the water (and beach…and air) for ALL of the surfers at Rincon! Tar Removal  Well…El Nino has not quite materialized in the rainy-stormy way we in...

Learn More


Posted by SOS California on Mar 23, 2016

There’s a great song by George and Ira Gershwin called “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” It’s from their musical Shall We Dance, and features Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers singing this song about how different they are – so different that they don’t pronounce common...

Learn More

OH SWELL – Summerland Oil Field

Posted by SOS California on Mar 9, 2016

Yay!! El Nino’s back!   Well, it never really went anywhere… so let’s say that it’s awake!   Yes, we’re getting rain again. But even when the Jet Stream has been keeping rain out of Southern California, El Nino storms to the north have been generating...

Learn More

Are You Willing to Give Up Oil for Lent 2016?

Posted by SOS California on Mar 1, 2016

OK…party’s over.  Fat Tuesday has come and gone. Lent Season Now we are in the season of Lent. What are you willing to give up? The recent oil Mardi Gras, allowing us to guzzle on gas in the $2-per-gallon range, has been great for commuters and vacationers...

Learn More
The Effects of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Newsletter Sign Up

Keep Up With The SOS News >>

SOS Videos

Take a look at some of our informative videos!

View More Projects

SOS California - In the News:

[products ids="1081, 1077, 1061"]

Make a Donation

Help us save California!

Join SOS California and actively support our mission with fundraising assistance; education, media and technical expertise; and regulatory reform expertise.


Since our inception, SOS has made progress to be proud of!!! BUT we still have a long way to go. The thing about progress is that it continues to open up new opportunities. And we want to be able to take advantage of ALL of them. To do this, we need your help.


I am so impressed with SOS California! Albertans need to create the equivalent… Keep up the good work.
~ Joseph Lawrence

Your Donations Help Our Cause By:

Become a Member

Social Media

We are incredibly proud of our new association with FirstClick, a cutting-edge social media company based in Santa Barbara. They have raised our consciousness about ways to communicate our message in ever more creative ways. Through FirstClick, we are posting consistently on Facebook, so that we are ever more a part of the conversation on energy and the environment. To further expand social media outreach, SOS has started a blog, California Oil (californiaoil.blogspot.com). FirstClick advises on approach, how to design a blog to encourage readership, and includes links to the blog in all social media. Support SOS

SOS Films

FirstClick also created 8 trailers from our movie, Road2Energy Independence, that can be accessed through YouTube. These trailers can also be accessed through our website. SOS Film Clips


SOS has had extensive meetings with the director of the Young America’s Foundation. They are interested in having SOS provide content for and participate in an energy and environment event at the Reagan Ranch Center. SOS is interested in accessing the organization’s connections at their outposts at college campuses across the country. info@soscalifornia.org

National Opportunities

We are often presented with opportunities for increased national exposure that are too good to resist. That is also true with opportunities that could be realized by the wider distribution of our two documentaries. These two outreach goals go together – and come with a hefty price tag. Donate

How do you want to help?


Total Donations: $100.00 USD

Make a Donation