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Hands Across the Sand continues fight against offshore drilling

Above: Volunteers and residents join hands against offshore drilling, forming a human chain during the Hands Across the Sand event on Saturday, May 18, at Moonlight Beach. 

ENCINITAS — Hundreds of San Diego County residents gathered on Saturday, May 18, at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas to join hands against fossil fuel expansion.

The 9th annual Hands Across the Sand, sponsored by environmental groups Oceana, Surfrider, Sierra Club and the United Nations Association of the USA, is a coordinated global protest.

And the focus remains the same since last year: oppose Trump administration efforts to expand offshore drilling.

This year, a total of 98 Hands Across the Sand events occurred around the world, including Canada, Belize, Greece, Australia and New Zealand. Groups in California organized nine separate events along the coastline.

Oceana’s Southern California Campaign Organizer Brady Bradshaw and Deputy Mayor Jody Hubbard speak to the crowd at Moonlight Beach. Photo by Jacob Aere

“People don’t want offshore drilling rigs,” said James McDonald, of Encinitas Bee Company. “They’re going to ruin our beaches. We’re burning the environment for the sake of the economy.”

Carly Kupka, co-chair of Surfrider’s Climate Change Committee in San Diego, said the event is a great opportunity for residents concerned about the health of the environment to take action on a local level.

“Hands Across the Sand is an effective yet fun way to get the public involved and oppose offshore drilling,” Kupka said. “These human lines in the sand stand against fossil fuels that threaten our future.”

And offshore drilling opposition efforts have received bipartisan support across San Diego County.

Most recently, a coalition of several North County mayors and County Supervisors gathered on April 15 at Moonlight State Beach in opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to expand offshore drilling operations along the California coastline.

Lawmakers in coastal states say that drilling off the coast could put their economy, environment and marine life at risk.

“Encinitas is absolutely against any more offshore drilling, along with almost every other city in San Diego,” said Encinitas Deputy Mayor Jody Hubbard. “It’s not worth the risk of destroying this beautiful ocean and coastline that we all call home.”

On March 30, a federal judge ruled that President Donald Trump’s 2017 order to revoke ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans was illegal.

Although that ruling sidelines the federal plan to expand oil and gas drilling, Oceana organizer and spokesman Brady Bradshaw said the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program is “the most radical and extreme plan we have ever seen.”

“It includes the entire coast of the Pacific, the Atlantic, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and many areas of the Arctic,” Bradshaw said.  “We’re doing everything we can just to prevent ourselves from experiencing another major oil disaster. We are going to fight until the (OCS) plan is scrapped entirely.

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