Florida oil drilling event goes national

Organizers of February’s “Hands Across the Sand” gathering in Florida against oil drilling plan to do it again on June 26, this time with a nationwide event.

The Feb. 13 event attracted more than 10,000 people to 90 beaches around the state, according to organizer Dave Rauschkolb, a Seaside restaurant owner.

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature at the time were considering lifting the 20-year-old ban on drilling in state waters within 10.36 miles of the Gulf coast. Then the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20 and sank, creating the ongoing oil spill that is causing oil to wash up on Panhandle beaches and has turned state officials away from drilling.

Now the next “Hands Across the Sand” event will be held across the nation and has the support of national environmental groups including the Sierra Club, Audubon, Surfrider, Oceana, Greenpeace and Moveon.org. Rauschkolb says the event is a “gathering” rather than a protest because it is more peaceful and reflective and provides solutions.

“It is a gathering of Americans on the beaches and in the cities of America in order to affect change and send a message to our leaders: We don’t want any more offshore drilling off our coast and we really want a change in our energy policy,” he said.

For more information, go to http://handsacrossthesand.org/ .

(Copyrighted photo by Mark Wallheiser and www.tallahasseestock.com. Story provided by The Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting brucebritchie@gmail.com.)