Floridians opposed to offshore drilling plans from the Trump administration plan to rally at beaches, parks and state capitals on Saturday.
The 10th annual “Hands Across the Sand” event will include at least 29 rallies to be held shortly before noon on Saturday. Elsewhere, 18 states and five countries will be involved.
Organizers want participants to urge their local officials to formally oppose the Trump administration’s draft plan to expand offshore drilling.
The administration announced a five-year plan in early 2018 that would open up 90 percent of U.S. offshore reserves to development by private companies. That included expanded drilling in the Artic and off the Atlantic coast. It also called for opening up waters off California for the first time in several decades. The plan called for drilling from Florida to Maine in areas that have been blocked for decades.
That plan, however, has not gotten off the ground yet.
There’s been fierce objections from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and a federal judge ruled last month against Trump’s executive order to open the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic to expanded oil and gas development.
A coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters filed suit to block Trump’s executive order.
Floridians overwhelmingly passed Constitutional Amendment 9 last fall, banning drilling in state-controlled waters, which are defined as 3-10 miles from the Gulf shoreline.
Gov. Ron DeSantis followed that up in January by signing an executive order calling on the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to “adamantly oppose” off-shore oil and gas activities off every coast in Florida.
The first “Hands Across the Sands” event took place across Florida beaches in February 2010, when Panhandle restauranteur Dave Rauschkolb decided to organize a rally a year after the Florida House of Representatives passed a proposal that would have ended the then 20-year ban against drilling in state waters.
Two months later, Florida’s tourism industry was damaged by the Deepwater Horizon disaster that spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf.
The measure didn’t pass the state Senate, but there were serious concerns that the issue would resurface in the upcoming session.
The rally against offshore drilling has now become an annual ritual that takes place on the third Saturday in May.
For more information about an event near you, you can go to the Hands Across the Sand’s website.