Photo courtesy of Faith Against Fracking

Gudrun Eastham, member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura.

Dozens of Oxnard and Ventura County residents gathered Saturday, May 30, for the interfaith Blessing of the Ocean and to urge local and California leaders to ban fracking and extreme oil extraction — and also oppose new gas fired power plants — in order to protect coastlines, ocean and communities from the harmful effects of oil and gas development.

“We call the ocean our mother waters, where all waters return. We are comprised of mostly water and without our waters being healthy and clean, all life suffers,” said Peuyoko Perez, Chumash Earth Steward.

“We are connected to all things in this world and are stewards of the earth designed to be caretakers. I believe seven generations ago my Chumash ancestors thought how can we push our children out to the next seven generations. We must all erase division in our hearts and lives and usher in a time where we learn and work together for the benefit of all life flourishing.”

The action came less than two weeks after a pipeline burst in Santa Barbara County, spilling more than 100,000 gallons of oil onto miles of coastline and into the Pacific Ocean. Tar balls from an as yet unidentified source began to appear this week on beaches in Ventura County, Los Angeles County and Orange County.

On Monday, June 1, the body of an oil-covered dolphin was found being devoured by vultures at Oxnard Shores, the site of Saturday’s Blessing of the Ocean.

“Today we are asking for God’s blessing and protection of marine life and our earth,” said Lupe Anguiana, a former Catholic Nun. “As people of faith and stewards of the earth, it is our duty to stand up to the pollution and destruction happening on our coasts and in our communities.

“Gov. Jerry Brown was trained as a Jesuit to be a steward of the earth; that he allows expanded drilling for dirty oil on our coast and throughout our state during a time of drought shows that he has lost his way.”

Oxnard’s coast is home to a variety of beautiful and endangered wildlife, white sand beaches, critical wetlands and also home to thousands of local residents. Despite this, the oil and gas industry continues to expand drilling on these shores and NRG Energy plans to build a fourth gas fired power plant on this fragile coast.

“When it comes to stewarding the planet, we’re utterly failing,” said David Braun, director of Faith Against Fracking. “We have a responsibility as people of faith to stop God’s most majestic creations from being destroyed; meanwhile, the planet is dying all around us. The tragic oil spill in Santa Barbara County is the latest example.

“Our faith teaches us that not only must we acknowledge that the destruction of the planet is wrong, but we must do something about it as well.”

Participants urged Oxnard City officials to deny NRG Energy’s proposal to build a fourth gas fired power plant along Oxnard’s coast, and called on Gov. Brown to take the first step toward getting California off dirty fossil fuels by banning fracking and extreme oil and gas extraction.