People around the world took a stand for healthy coasts and marine wildlife this weekend, joining hands to fight the threats of increased offshore drilling. And in this year’s Hands Across the Sand, thousands of Americans — from the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia to the sandy beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, all the way to California and the Pacific — made it clear that they want to trade the dirty, dangerous energy sources of the past for a clean, responsible renewable energy future.
But while ocean lovers and activists came together in solidarity, another kind of gathering was taking place in the Sunshine State. Florida’s Senate President, Mike Haridopolos, met with Big Oil representatives in an “off the record session” to develop energy policy recommendations for state lawmakers, including Florida Governor Rick Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon. On the agenda? You guessed it – outer continental shelf energy development (aka, drilling off of Florida’s coasts).
Could the timing have been worse? Apparently Florida lawmakers are suffering from the same case of oil spill amnesia that’s plaguing the members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have now passed three reckless offshore drilling bills. But the Floridians who joined Hands on Saturday haven’t forgotten – and neither has Defenders. In fact, we had both coasts covered this weekend – with Florida representative Elizabeth Fleming joining former governor Charlie Crist and other state and city officials in St. Petersberg and marine policy advisor Richard Charter speaking up in California’s Sonoma County. Their message (and ours): keep our coasts clean, healthy and drilling-free.