Joining hands on Ocracoke against offshore drilling
By CONNIE LEINBACH
The Ocracoke Observer
Williams and Tony Chambers were happy to participate in the Hands
Across the Sand protest of offshore oil drilling on Saturday, May 16,
because they’ve had experience swimming in oceans with oil spills.
two, of Raleigh, were among about 100 islanders and visitors who joined
hands at the Lifeguard Beach at noon, and the group was among many
others participating on Saturday in the United States and eight
countries worldwide to protest offshore drilling, according to Dede
Shelton of Boise, Idaho, one of the national organizers of Hands Across
related news, A group of senators introduced a trio of bills
Tuesday to open up more areas of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and
the Arctic to offshore oil drilling and to provide more oil revenue for
states. For details, visit the Washington, D.C., paper, The Hill, here.
and Chambers are adventure tour leaders who travel all over the worl.
They talked about the balls of oil they’ve seen in the Middle East,
particularly in the Strait of Hormuz in northern Oman.
look like millions of gel beads in the water,” Williams said, adding
that the ships clean their ballast offshore, which then floats to the
and Chambers conduct ocean kayak tours, rock climbing, hiking and
horseback riding tours. The northern part of Oman has a terrain where
the mountains meet the ocean, which is perfect for their tours.
A spill first looks like a big slick in the water, Williams said.
streaks on you and you have to use baby oil to get it off your skin,”
she said. To get oil off kayaks, they must use gasoline, which then
also goes into the ocean.
why I get so angry about offshore drilling,” Williams continued. “I
would rather see windmills out there than oil rigs. An oil rig
spill will affect the entire ocean ecosystem. If it’s about jobs, wind
energy can provide those.”
said she and Chambers conduct ocean kayak tours from Shackelford Banks
to Ocracoke and frequently camp on the beach on Core Banks.
“We don’t like to go to beaches with high-rises and hotels,” she said. “We like this and want to see it preserved.”
and Eric Stockton of Siler City, vacationing on Ocracoke for the week,
had heard about the event in the morning and decided to join in.
“I’m completely against offshore drilling,” Shelly said.
Mitchell, who organized Ocracoke’s Hands Across the Sand event in
2010, said Saturday’s turnout was about the same as five years ago.
Baker, a co-owner of Mermaid’s Folly, who spearheaded the offshore
drilling protest 20 years ago and is doing so again since the Obama
administration opened the mid-Atlantic seaboard to the possibility of
oil exploration, closed her shop to organize the hand-holding.
can never prove to us that they can drill without harming our
environment,” she said about the renewed effort that began in March.
a founder of LegaSea, a Manteo and Ocracoke-based grass-roots group,
Baker fought against and defeated a similar plan in the late 1980s,
leading to a 20-year moratorium on drilling off the coast.
moratorium has recently expired, and the Bureau of Energy Management,
an agency in the Department of the Interior formerly known as the
Minerals Management Service, has begun the process of exploring the
possibilities of offering new leases to oil companies.
Ocracoke members of the original LegaSea group included Baker, Carmie Prete, Ann Ehringhaus and Gary Coye.
whose brother Dave Rauschkolb founded the event in 2009 in Seaside,
Fla., was encouraged about the the turnout worldwide for drawing lines
in the sand. After the first “hands” event in January 2010, the
Florida legislature backed off its approval of offshore drilling there.
Five weeks after that, the BP oil spill occurred off Louisiana in
the Gulf of Mexico.
were 1,000 people on the beach in Miami and 400 in Nags Head,” she said
in a phone interview about Saturday’s event. “It gives me encouragement
to know there are still passionate people out there.”
said that the precursor to oil drilling is seismic air-gun blasting
which will have a harmful impact on marine mammals and other species.
Next year’s event will be May 14, Shelton said.
For information about the group, visit Hands Across the Sand here.
(For more news and features about Ocracoke, go to www.ocracokeobserver.com.)