Saturday, August 4, 2012

Join Hands! No to Offshore Drilling, Yes to Clean Energy!

Statement by Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Senior Organizing Manager

     On April 20, 2010, our nation’s worst man-made environmental disaster struck when the Deepwater Horizon platform erupted, pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana.    It was a horrific nightmare for people living along much of the Gulf coast and it led to gruesome destruction of marine life in and near the water.  Hands Across the Sand grew from that moment, and the movement was embraced by people all over the world  two months later, when 100,0000 people gathered in 50 states and 46 countries with the unified message:  No Offshore Drilling – anywhere.

     There isn’t a major spill in the Gulf today - but the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon disaster remain with us.  Scientists continue finding new evidence that the Gulf is still sick - from dying dolphins to dead plankton at the beginning of the food chain.

     Meanwhile our leaders continue hiding their heads in the sand, refusing to see what is happening.  They yield to the pressure of the oil industry in its rush to drill – Atlantic Coast, more deep wells in the Gulf, Cuba, Alaska, Brazil, New Zealand – wherever oil can be found.  That puts our communities and coastlines at risk again.  But the worst thing is that  all that drilling is unnecessary.

     It is unnecessary because the future we have dreamed of – civilization powered by clean energy – has arrived.  It is technologically feasible, it is being built, and it is affordable.  All we need do is embrace it.

     How do we make this change to prevent the next disaster?

     Our counties need to adopt multi-modal transportation systems that include modern rapid bus and light rail.

     Our states need to move highway construction money to high speed rail connecting our cities, and they need to accept help from the federal government when it offers it.

     Our cities and towns need to redesign our streets to make them safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

     Our public utility commissions need to make it easy for utilities to replace dirty coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas power plants with solar power arrays.   Every sod farm in Florida should be a candidate for conversion to a solar power field.

     Our state legislatures need to remove the barriers that make it difficult for homeowners to install solar panels on our rooftops.

     Our nation needs to put in place a network of rapid charging stations on our interstate highways that will allow electric car owners to recharge quickly on longer trips.

     Our power companies need to fully embrace energy efficiency and make it possible for every person to cut their power consumption in half and recharge their electric cars at the same time.

     And each of us here today, business owners, environmentalists, government leaders, citizens joining hands and, yes, even you members of the press – have an individual responsibility to lead.  We personally need to buy electric cars, make our own houses energy efficient, and install solar panels on our rooftops.  We need to ride the bus and train and walk or bicycle to our destinations whenever possible.  We need to recycle our waste, and use less products made from oil.

     This is how we will get beyond oil.

     This is how we will create millions of jobs as we rebuild our nation’s energy infrastructure.

     This is how our children and their children will breathe cleaner air.

     This is how we will protect our beaches like this one on the Gulf of Mexico.

     This is how we will protect our coastal economy.

     This is how we will let the earth cool off a little bit and prevent catastrophic melting of the ice caps on the South Pole and Greenland.

     Let us join hands today and move beyond oil to a cleaner, healthier, and prosperous future.


Delivered at Hands Across the Sand Event 8/04/12
Tradewinds Resort - St. Petersburg Beach on the Gulf of Mexico