Hands Across the Sand says “No to offshore drilling, yes to clean energy"

Chandler Williams of Modus Photography

I got an email today from Moveon.org advising me, “There's a huge event happening this weekend at a beach near you.”
“In the wake of the giant BP oil spill in the Gulf, tens of thousands of people are getting together on beaches around the world for a massive event called "Hands Across The Sand,” the moveon.org folks said.
And so far, I’ve seen press advisories saying a Hands Across the Sand event is happening at Ocean Beach and China Beach In San Francisco, and at Crown Memorial Beach on Alameda Island, with folks gathering around 11 a.m. in preparation for non-violent hand-holding at 12 noon, on Saturday, June 26.
And the really cool and catchy part of this idea is that anyone on any beach anywhere in the world can join in, simply by grabbing the nearest person's hand.

Dave Rauschkolb, who founded the first Hands Across the Sand event earlier this year, is a surfer and owner of three restaurants on the beach in Seaside, Florida, on the northern Gulf Coast between Pensacola and Panama City.
Rauschkolb spoke to me by phone today, shortly after US District Court Judge Martin Feldman ruled against  Obama’s deepwater drilling moratorium, claiming the Obama Admin “overreached”. and just the tar balls were starting to come up on the beach near Rauschkolb’s restaurants in Florida.

These incoming tar balls are an especially heartbreaking sight for Rauschkolb, given that he helped successfully organize the first Hands Across the Sand event on Feb. 13, 2010, when over 10,000 people joined hands on nearly 100 beaches along the coastline to stop the expansion of offshore oil drilling. But hopefully, terrible sights like this will be the impetus that finally gets U.S. citizens to break their addiction to oil.

“We gathered to stop the expansion of oil drilling in our coastal waters,” Rauschkolb said, referring to how folks protested efforts by the Florida Legislature and the U.S. Congress to lift the ban on offshore oil drilling.

“Now, just a few months later our entire Gulf of Mexico marine environment and
coastal economy is at risk from the very thing we tried to stop: offshore oil drilling off
our coast,” he continued. “The Deepwater Horizon disaster is a wake up call. Even as the Gulf disaster grows, British Petroleum and other oil companies continue to push for new offshore drilling anywhere oil might be found regardless of the risks they pose. The offshore drilling industry is a dirty, dangerous business and no one industry should be able to place entire coastal economies and marine environments at risk. Why is this allowed to happen?”

Rauschkolb said he blames BP to the extent that we should hold them accountable for what happened with the Deepwater Horizon disaster,
“However, I also hold the entire offshore oil industry accountable as well, because any company could have had this happen, “ he told me, pointing to a blow out off the Australian coast that took three months before a relief well could be drilled.

Concerned that the U.S. government and the oil industry will seek to make BP the scapegoat, in an effort to avoid imposing stricter regulations, Rauschkolb said such a response wouldn’t be a good outcome.

“America could be, should be one of the world’s leaders in expanding cleaner energy sources yet, our political process is paralyzed by oil money and influence. It is time for our leaders in all countries to take bold, courageous steps and open the door to clean energy and renewables and finally extend a hand to free our countries from our addiction to oil.”

“This is a critical turning point in finally changing our prehistoric energy policy towards the light of clean energy,” Rauschkolb concludes. “ Let us work together and share our passion and energies to protect our coastal economies, our oceans, our beaches, our waterfowl and our marine life. On behalf of those who have been and continue to be affected by this disaster of epic proportions in our Gulf of Mexico we extend our deepest appreciation to all of you for Joining Hands across America and the world on June 26.”

Rauschkolb invites folks to visit the Hands Across the Sand website and sign up to organize a beach or city.
Sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday. And if you do, you'll be joining a movement that's exciting interest around the world. According to Rauschkolb, as of today, 627 events are scheduled to take place on June 26 in 451 U.S. cities, with another 45 events scheduled outside the U.S. in 20 separate countries.

Think Global. Go clean energy.