Hands Across the Sand and Land in St. Pete.
Photo courtesy of Danielle Carapellucci.
Hands Across the Sand and Land joined Keystone XL National Day of Action on May 17th in a global call: No Dirty Energy, Clean Energy Now. Communities around the country are facing threats from coastal and offshore drilling, the Keystone XL pipeline, seismic blasting, tar sands mining, hydraulic fracturing, LNG export terminals, mountain top removal, and coal trains and terminals. In addition to damaging our water, air and wildlife these projects also threaten to worsen climate change, which is already leading to rising sea levels, ocean acidification, crop loss and increased drought, forest fires and flooding.
From Florida to Alaska, and across the world, people gathered at “Hands Across the Sand and Land” events to call for an end to dirty fossil fuel projects that endanger our local communities, and for an acceleration of the shift to clean, renewable energy. The events showed support for a clean energy future at a time when a host of new dirty fuel proposals are under consideration and climate chaos is a daily reality. This year, Hands Across the Sand & Land organized the event as a National Day of Action in partnership with the Tar Sands Coalition, which is focused on stopping the Keystone XL pipeline. Hands Across the Sand & Land is sponsored by Sierra Club, Gulf Restoration Network, Surfrider Foundation, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Oceana, Center for a Sustainable Coast, Chart 411, Urban Paradise Guild, and All things Healing.
“Expanding offshore oil drilling is not the answer; embracing clean energy is,” said Dave Rauschkolb, a Florida restaurateur who founded Hands Across the Sand in 2010. “We’re here to say NO to offshore drilling and dirty fuels, and YES to clean energy.”
In addition to its annual participation in the national Hands organizing team, Gulf Restoration Network headed up one of the flagship Hands events at St. Pete Beach, FL, where over 200 people came together, riding bikes, buses and trolleys to keep oil drilling off Florida’s beaches and demand clean, solar energy for Florida.
“Our coastal and marine environments continue to be threatened by the exploration and drilling for fossil fuels. Four years after the BP disaster, the effects of oil and dispersant are taking a toll on marine life and on the health and economy of coastal communities. This is why we join hands - to keep dirty fuels in the ground and call for a clean energy future,” said Cathy Harrelson, Florida Organizer for the Gulf Restoration Network and St. Pete Beach event organizer.
Joining hands on the beach in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
In New Orleans, the GRN team gathered along the shore of Bayou St. John during the Bayou Boogaloo Festival. Folks arrived by bike, kayak and carpool to focus on clean, clear water and a clean energy future. While the battle to defend Louisiana’s coast from fossil fuel threats continues, there has also been positive change occurring in the city of New Orleans. In a recent report by Environment America, New Orleans was listed in the top 10 cities for most installed solar PV capacity per capita. The Alliance for Biking and Walking reported that New Orleans is 8th in the nation for biking to work and ranks 7th in per capita spending on bicycle and pedestrian projects.
At the Hands event in Ocean Springs, GRN’s Mississippi Organizer, Helen Rose Patterson, gathered with the 12 Miles South Coalition. “The possibility of offshore drilling in Mississippi waters is very real,” said Patterson. “Because of our tourism based economy, offshore drilling is just bad news. When you look at other communities that have drilling offshore, they see real drops in their economic activity. Especially around tourism, because people don't want to visit our barrier islands and our beaches if there are oil and gas rigs right out there on the horizon.”
A complete list of event stories and photos can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/handsacrossthesand/ or through the Action Network at http://content.sierraclub.org/beyondoil/may-17-national-day-action.
Cathy Harrelson is GRN's Florida Organizer.