This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | June 22, 2010
On summer weekends visitors and residents alike head to beaches across our region to surf, fish, swim and play. One hard reality of the still-ongoing Gulf oil disaster is that at least 100 miles of Gulf coastline cannot welcome people or animals due to the oil and tar balls that continue to wash up on beaches each day. This weekend on beaches across the country, and even around the world, hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens will join hands and call for the protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, and fishing industry from the devastating effects of offshore oil drilling.
The very first Hands Across the Sands events were held only four months ago on Saturday, February 13, but so much has changed since that cool winter morning. That day, thousands of Floridians representing 60 towns and more than 90 beaches wore black (symbolizing oily beaches) and joined hands to protest efforts by the Florida Legislature and the US Congress to lift the ban on oil drilling off the shores of Florida. Events from Jacksonville to Miami Beach and from Key West to Pensacola culminated in the largest gatherings in Florida’s history against oil drilling. Thousands of citizens from every walk of life joined hands that day to become physical lines in the sand against offshore oil drilling and in favor of clean energy alternatives.
Then came the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the rest, as they say, is history. Or is it? Because there are still elected officials, such as Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana or Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Florida, joined by citizens who maintain that offshore oil drilling is necessary to feed our oil addiction, despite the fact that offshore oil drilling is now responsible for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Unbelievably, this disaster may still be weeks or months away from even being contained.
The most frustrating aspect of this debate is that we risk long-term impacts to our beaches, marshlands and fisheries, and yet we will never be able to drill our way to lower gas prices or energy independence. We can, however, drill for solutions including clean energy and energy efficiency.
To help show decision makers just how much support there is for these kinds of solutions through policies and incentives, join other concerned citizens, business owners and community leaders this weekend at a Hands Across the Sand event at a beach (or even lake) near you. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is proud to be a sponsor of this initiative which has hundreds of events already scheduled in 49 states and in 20 other countries/territories. You can either join a nearby event or organize your own with user-friendly resources, templates and materials. Head to the beach on Saturday, join hands with a neighbor and send a a clear and simple message to lawmakers: NO to offshore drilling and YES to clean energy.