On Saturday, May 18, communities throughout the Southeast hosted events to stand up for their treasured places and send the message that these places must be protected from the impacts of risky fossil fuel extraction. The events were organized as part of Hands Across the Sand, a day of international action to say “yes” to clean energy and “no” to offshore drilling and other risky fossil fuels.
Hands Across the Sand has taken place annually since its 2010 inception and SACE is proud to have been an original sponsor. Over the past four years, thousands of events have taken place in all 50 states and in 42 countries worldwide. Initially, the event was focused solely on offshore drilling, but the past two years have incorporated opposition to coal, fracking, and tar sands as well.
The events themselves are simple yet powerful: at 12:00 noon in each local time zone, participants form a line and join hands, physically and figuratively drawing a line in the sand. Equally powerful is the message: these treasured places are worth more than the short-term profits that industries might be able to extract from them.
This year, we had 37 events right here in the Southeast, from North Carolina down to Florida and over to Louisiana. Residents of these 37 communities stood up for clean water and clean air, for healthy beaches, for ocean wildlife, and for the awesome quality of life we enjoy here in the Southeast.
Offshore drilling is risky and dangerous. We saw its terrible impacts in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 (and the tragedy is still unfolding to this day); in the Santa Barbara blowout in the 1960s and in untold and usually unreported catastrophes that occur around the world on an annual basis.
In the Southeast, our economy relies on clean, healthy beaches and a thriving coast. Hundreds of thousands of Southeasterners work in the coastal tourism and fishing industries, which generate billions of dollars per year. Jeopardizing these critical, established industries for high-risk offshore drilling would be a grave mistake and a disservice to our communities.
The good news is that we can create energy jobs right here without the threat to our mainstay industries. Solar power, offshore wind, biopower, and energy efficiency can provide for much of our energy needs while creating little to no pollution and supporting a vibrant economy. Alternative transportation fuels, such as biofuels, and electric vehicles reduce our need for more oil, and alternative transportation such as bicycling or public transit not only reduce oil consumption, but also alleviate traffic, and help us stay healthier.
The message we sent on May 18 is that tapping clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency will ensure a thriving, vibrant coastal economy now and in the future.
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