Thousands join hands in oil protest

June 26, 2011 at 3:37 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., June 26 (UPI) -- Thousands gathered on U.S. beaches in annual "Hands Across the Sand" events protesting offshore oil drilling and promoting clean energy, organizers said.

At more than 50 locations around Florida Saturday, hundreds of people joined hands to call on elected leaders to end America's dependence on oil, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

"We had about 400 people last year, but that was right on the heels of the BP oil spill," said Ana Campos of the Clean Energy Coalition of South Florida, which organized the event on Fort Lauderdale's beach. "I was still really surprised that we had around 150 people show up. We had a great crowd."

A crowd of several hundred gathered in South Beach in an event organized by Oceana, a group conducting beach cleanups.

"The point is to draw a line in the sand against off-shore drilling and for clean energy," Oceana organizer Katie Parrish told The Miami Herald.

In Virginia, about 75 people joined hands in Virginia Beach, far fewer than the 1,000 who participated in last year's inaugural event.

"We knew it would be difficult to duplicate last year's crowd," Eileen Levandoski of the Virginia Sierra Club said. "The [BP] story has probably faded from some people's minds, but it's no less important."

In San Diego, local organizer Belinda Smith of the Surfrider Foundation expressed concerned about President Barak Obama's recent proposal to open large areas along the Atlantic coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Alaskan coast to oil and gas drilling.

"We don't want to industrialize our coasts," Smith told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "They belong to us, the people. If we were to drill all the oil off the California coast, it would only be a 13-month supply. It's not worth it."

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