Hands Across the Sand draws thousands to protest oil drilling in Florida waters

02/15/10 Doris Norrito
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The prospect of oil drilling in Florida waters drew over 2500 people to beaches all along the Florida coastline. Bracing wind and uncharacteristic cold, residents and visitors united to show Tallahassee and Washington a unified commitment to protect Florida’s marine ecosystem and tourist based economy. The message was clear – no oil drilling in Florida waters!

Restaurant owner Gregg Nicklous spoke of the impact on tourism and jobs.

Pinellas elected officials from both major parties spoke at the Sirata Beach Resort in St.Petersburg Beach in support of Florida interests. U.S. Representative Bill Young, a Republican is a long time advocate of beach protection.

Many Hands Across the Sand participants were dressed in black. They formed single lines along 80 Florida beach coasts; then joined hands for fifteen minutes. State Senator Charlie Justice is a Democrat representing St.Petersburg and Tampa.

State Senator Dennis Jones, a Republican, is author of the Beach Management Act in Florida.

The Miami Herald reported that Representative Dean Cannon, an Orlando Republican, is slated to unveil legislation on Tuesday that could allow oil and gas drilling within three miles of Florida’s coast. David Mica, Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council, is a backer of the legislation.

Area legislators doubt that due to concerns about the impact on the region’s tourism industry and the environment, the Florida Legislature will pass any offshore drilling-related bills in 2010.

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