Citizens at Rocky Mountain Lake Park Join Hands to Draw Line in Sand Against Offshore Drilling; Events Around the U.S and World May Be the Largest Protest Against Offshore Drilling Ever

Environment Colorado

Denver, CO – At noon, on the banks of Rocky Mountain Lake Park and at hundreds of beautiful beaches and parks around the U.S. and the world, activists joined hands and stood in lines to protest offshore oil drilling. As oil continues to gush from the BP Oil Spill disaster in the Gulf, Environment Colorado, Sierra Club, Audubon and concerned citizens linked hands at noon to make sure that the catastrophe in the Gulf can never again be repeated off of America’s coasts. 
Gavin Clark, field director from Environment Colorado said, “Coloradans have experienced firsthand the disastrous impacts of oil and gas drilling. We also know that America’s coasts and beaches are treasured places where millions of people visit every year to enjoy the outdoors, swim, fish and relax. In the next few months, Congress and the administration will have the fate of America’s energy future in their hands. At this Hands Across the Sand event we are saying to them loud and clear: No to more offshore drilling and spilling, and Yes to clean energy and reducing our dependence on oil.” 
The protest today at this beach and at hundreds of others around the U.S. and the world may well be the largest anti-drilling rally that has ever been held. The Hands Across the Sand events are aimed at opposing new drilling and steering America’s energy policy away from its dependence on fossil fuels and toward clean energy.  The goal is to convince President Obama and other leaders to abandon offshore oil drilling, protect our coasts from oil spills, and adopt policies that encourage clean energy instead.
“This past week in Washington, key players in the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate have been negotiating the parameters of legislation for shaping our country’s energy destiny for decades to come.  It’s very important that people who care about clean, renewable energy contact Senator Udall and Senator Bennet and tell them that we’re prepared to make the changes necessary to assure a clean and just energy infrastructure for future generations,” said Becky English, Chair of Sierra Club’s Energy Committee in Colorado and Chair of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) Legislative Committee.
According to a recent report on the economic value of coasts, “The Economic and Market Value of Coasts and Estuaries,” produced by Restore America’s Estuaries, America’s beaches had 853   million beach visitor days.  Coastal tourism and fishing, dependent on clean beaches and oceans, accounted for $196 billion in business in 2008, according to US government data. 
“Although we are far from the Gulf here in Colorado, it is events like these that unite our country’s passion for our environment, and proves to Congress that we need action now on a comprehensive energy plan,” said Stephanie DeMattee, Important Bird Areas Coordinator, Audubon Colorado. “Sadly, the oil spill is only the latest of countless assaults on Gulf coast birds like the Brown Pelican, but Audubon’s commitment to the beauty and rich diversity of the Gulf region has led the response and recovery efforts helping birds and other wildlife weather this crisis.”
Since April 22nd, when BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank, by government estimate some 95 to 160 millions of gallons of oil have gushed from the broken well, oiling hundreds of miles of Gulf coastline and delicate marshes, putting tens of thousands of square miles of the Gulf off limits to all fishing, and killing countless birds, sea turtles, fish and other wildlife.  The spill is the worst in U.S. history and exposes the offshore drilling industry as a dirty and dangerous business that is far from risk free.
“We applaud President Obama and Secretary Salazar for their recent decision to suspend Shell Oil’s plans for drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer. Just like our shores here at home on our Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, the Arctic Ocean deserves special protection,” said Durango-based Anna Peterson, Alaska Coalition Coordinator with Alaska Wilderness League. “The Arctic Ocean is one of the most unique marine ecosystems in the world and has been essential to the survival of some of our nation’s most beloved wildlife and Alaska’s Inupiat people for thousands of years. We must continue to work hard to ensure that any future development in these pristine waters is only allowed to proceed when it can be done safely.”