WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--This week, as hundreds of conservation stakeholders from across the United States convened in Washington, D.C. for the Blue Vision Summit, ocean activists kicked off the fifth annual Hands Across the Sand international day of action, by joining hands in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool yesterday in a symbolic gesture to oppose the expansion of offshore drilling to the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.
On Saturday, May 16 at noon, activists and ocean-lovers will host Hands Across the Sand events across the country and around the world to “draw a line in the sand,” and say “NO” to dirty fossil fuel projects, as well as call for a shift to clean, renewable energy like offshore wind and solar power. Flagship events will be held in Virginia Beach, VA, Ocean City, MD, Rehoboth Beach, DE and dozens of locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and New Jersey as well as on the West Coast. A complete list of this year’s events can be found here.
While this year marks the fifth anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, this week, the Obama administration approved offshore drilling in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea. The federal government is also currently considering opening up the East Coast to offshore drilling for the first time in decades, as well as planning to authorize new drilling off Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico.
Concurrently, the administration is reviewing applications for companies to use seismic airguns to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. Based on the government’s own estimates, seismic blasting in the Atlantic could harm fish populations while injuring as many as 138,000 marine mammals like whales and dolphins, and disturbing the vital activities of millions more.
“Offshore oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic could injure or even kill thousands of fish and marine mammals as well as destroy coastal tourism and economies for decades to come,” said Nancy Pyne, Oceana’s grassroots manager. “Opening up the Atlantic to offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business—there are countless risks, with little to no reward. Coastal communities have the most to lose, and their voices must be heard. We encourage local residents and their elected officials to continue to speak out against offshore drilling.”
“The massive participation in Hands Across the Sand shows that people oppose the risky practice of offshore drilling and understand that we need to seek real solutions to our energy crisis," added Pete Stauffer, environmental director for the Surfrider Foundation. "Surfrider's grassroots network, including our 25 local chapters on the East Coast, calls upon the Obama administration to cancel plans for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean."
"It's clear that the safest place for dirty fuels is in the ground," said Dan Chu, senior director for Sierra Club's Our Wild America Campaign. "Instead of opening up our coasts and other special places to destructive mining, fracking or drilling, we should be focusing on clean energies, like offshore wind and solar, that will benefit our climate, our communities and our environment."
Chris Carnevale, coastal climate and energy coordinator for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said, "coastal communities are increasingly choosing our high quality of life and a robust tourism economy with clean energy over the risky gamble of offshore drilling and its industrialization of our coast with refineries, pipelines and inevitable oil spills.”
"It is time that we join together to create a powerful image of thousands of people saying NO to destroying our planet and YES to saving it for future generations," said Dede Shelton, executive director of Hands Across the Sand. “It is time to inform the masses of the destructive processes that seismic airgun testing and offshore drilling will have on our beaches, in our oceans and to our environment.”
Hands Across the Sand is sponsored by Oceana, Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Gulf Restoration Network, Center for a Sustainable Coast and Friends of the Earth.
Hands Across the Sand brings together like-minded individuals and organizations with the conviction to organize a global movement to promote a clean energy future and end our dependence on dirty fuels. These gatherings bring thousands of citizens to our beaches and cities to draw metaphorical and actual lines in the sand against the threats fossil fuels pose to our present and future planet. For more information, please visit www.handsacrossthesand.org.