by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
In 1968 Union Oil decided they needs a new kind of PR representative so they went into local schools to find boy scouts who would like to learn about the oil business. One young man, named David Lincoln, then fourteen, was useful to them the next year in the wake of the Santa Barbara Spill.
The PR Representative, who also made an unsuccessful run for State Senate from Compton, took Dave and a few other boys up to Santa Barbara to watch the clean-up. Young Dave, who had just turned fifteen, did a series of appearances on radio shows, reading a script he shared with the show host, presenting Union Oil as a responsible company, extremely concerned about the environment.
When Dave spoke those words he believed them. Men he respected had told him they were. A quiet boy, Dave enjoyed what he was learning about the technology of oil drilling. He was encouraged to make working for oil companies his career, which he did, taking the courses they recommended at USC, which was nearby for his degree in Geology.
Over the next 25 years Dave worked for oil companies on seven continents in increasingly responsible and well paid positions. He began to see many things which shocked him, but he continued to believe the industry cared about doing the right thing for people and the environment.
It was working directly with Ken Lay, CEO of Enron which changed his mind.
Dave was in charge of putting a pipeline across the island. Instead of building this through a pristine forest he tried to persuade Ken Lay to take a slightly longer, easier route. Lay's sneering comments about the the damage which would be done to the forest ended in Dave walking away from a six figure salary and returning to the US. There, he joined Green Peace, beginning an intense study of how the oil industry evaded accountability for the shocking damage to life and the environment Dave knew they were doing.
As an insider, Dave was able to expose them. As an expert witness in court Dave's testimony brought clarity to the systemic cover-ups they were carrying out to optimize their profits with no concern for human life. No oil company won when Dave was able to give testimony.
A showdown is finally coming. It will take place on the beach in Santa Barbara County. Get the popcorn ready.