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Hands Across the Sand

Date : Tue, 7 Aug 2012 14:30:47 -0400

For Immediate Release
August 4, 2012 Contact Nicole Dallara, New Jersey Sierra Club 732-642-4695 John Weber, Northeast Director of the Surfrider Foundation, 732-567-1787

Hands Across the Sand

People Forming a Line in the Sand to Oppose Offshore Drilling

Bradley Beach -Today the New Jersey Sierra Club, Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Congressman Pallone, Mayor Schreck of Bradley, Mayor Healy of Jersey City, and concerned citizens around New Jersey will be joining hands on the beach with one simple message: "NO to offshore oil drilling and YES to clean energy". Hands Across the Sand is an event started after the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago. This event is held around the world where people join hands calling for a clean energy future and a stop to offshore drilling that harms our oceans and environment. This message we are sending to protect our coast from offshore drilling is vital since Congress is pushing to expand drilling practically everywhere from the Arctic to the Atlantic. People here in Bradley Beach and down in Ocean City are joining others in countries around the world making a line in the sand sending a powerful message that offshore drilling is not the answer - clean energy is.

"I am glad to join with Hands Across the Sand advocates in New Jersey and across the country today to call attention to the dangers posed by offshore drilling and voice support for promising clean energy alternatives that will protect our environment, create American jobs and reduce our dependency on foreign oil," *said Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06).* "In Congress, I am proud to fight for legislation that investsin more sustainable energy solutions, and will continue to oppose legislation that expands offshore drilling, particularly off the coast of theAtlantic, so we may protect our valuable marine resources and beaches." The House of Representatives Natural Resource Committee recently passed legislation to overturn President’s Obama’s 5 year moratorium, which would expand offshore drilling along a large portion of the East Coast including the North and Mid-Atlantic. This is one of many pieces of legislation being introduced to expedite offshore drilling. In addition the Department of Interior accepted the proposed plan to begin seismic testing for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean making the threat of offshore drilling a potential reality. It is more important now more than ever that we join together to show Congress we will not allow oil rigs off our coasts and it is time to turn to clean, renewable energy.

"We shore towns treasure our beautiful beaches, and take pride in sharing them with the rest of our state and the rest of the world. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to stop clinging to the dirty, expensive, and dangerous 19th-century technology that is oil drilling. As a state, as a country -- we are better than this. Just imagine the jobs that could be created and the pollution that could be eliminated if we as a country focused on building affordable clean energy for all," said Julie Schreck, Mayor of Bradley Beach. ** The plan recently approved by the Department of Interior for seismic testing is nothing more than a gateway to drilling. Seismic testing alone poses many impacts with the use of air gun blasts shown to disrupt marine life and animals. Whales and dolphins are especially sensitive to seismic testing because it interferes with their communication and has shown to harm their hearing. Testing has also been shown to cause commercial fishing catch rates to decrease dramatically. Not only are marine animals affected, but humans could be harmed as well if divers or swimmers are in the water at the time of the blast it could potentially harm their hearing as well. Opening up the Atlantic Coast to oil exploration could make drilling off our coast a reality. This is not the first time our coast has been threatened by drilling. Last summer two bills were introduced that would fast track offshore drilling. Drilling off the coast of Virginia less than 100 miles from New Jersey’s coasts will pose a threat to New Jersey because Shell Oil Company has said it plans to run a pipeline through our state's waters. There was even a bill will directly threaten New Jersey’s coast by opening up virtually every coast to offshore drilling.

"Seismic testing itself will have devastating impacts on the marine animals that live or travel up and down our coast. The use of air gun blasts for oil exploration can cause permanent damage to marine life. Not only that oil exploration is the gateway to drilling making offshore drilling a potential reality off our coast," *said Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator for the New Jersey Sierra Club. *"Seismic testing could begin by late 2012 making it vitally important that we send a clear message on Saturday that we do not want oil rigs off our coast. The time is now to begin to turn to clean, renewable energy. Our future depends on it."** Since they have not strengthened the regulations for off shore drilling the likelihood of a disaster off our coast is very real. Sierra Club’s Don’t Rig Our Coastal Economy report found that New Jersey’s coastal tourism industry supports nearly 500,000 jobs, and one out of every six of the state’s jobs are linked in some form to its shoreline. Visits to the area generate $16.6 billion in wages and add $5.5 billion to the state’s tax coffers. Offshore oil drilling is not the answer. It wasn't the answer in 2009 before the BP Gulf Disaster, and it isn't the answer now," *said John Weber, Northeast Regional Manager of the Surfrider Foundation.* "Clean Oceans, Waves, and Beaches are the economic engine of the shore economy, not more oil drilling." If an oil spill where to occur off our coast it would have significant impacts on the tourism sector. During the summer of 1988 when medical waste washed up onto a 50-mile stretch of New Jersey’s shore, tourism dropped off significantly and the area directly lost at least $1 billion in revenue. An oil spill off the coast of New Jersey could trigger an even more dramatic decline in tourism.

"The tourism industry that is connected with New Jersey’s beautiful beaches and our Atlantic Ocean brings billions of dollars to our state and to the local economies along the Jersey shore each year," *said Mayor Healy of Jersey City.* "I have always enjoyed swimming in our great ocean when I have the opportunity and a countless number of my constituents in Jersey City enjoy the same thing. This legislation, if it goes forward, would not only jeopardize this wonderful natural resource but also destroy the economic benefits that flow there from." Instead of drilling off our coast we should end the $4 billion in subsidies for big oil and use that money for clean energy. Oil companies are making billions of dollars in profit at the expense of our environment and our wallets. This is from the Drill baby Drill crowd, which is really Spill Baby Spill crowd who rather expedite offshore drilling instead of raising CAFÉ standards or trying to develop more transit.

"We are drawing a line in the sand with human bodies to protect our ocean and shore from further exploitation. For the profits of the 1% the 99% of us are expected to roll over and hand our planet over. No way!" said Georgina Shanely, CURE. "We want to break the addiction to fossil fuels and put money and creativity into clean renewable energy".

 Drilling in the mid-Atlantic could necessitate more pipelines being built off our coast to bring the oil to New Jersey refineries as well. An oil spill would not only affect our beaches and tourism, but our fisheries as well. New Jersey has a multi-billion dollar fishing industry in Cape May in particular, which would the area that would be most at risk. Not only does this put our coast at risk, but it undermines renewable energy and growing our green energy economy.

"We are here today to draw a line in the sand against offshore oil drilling. We need our Government to protect our beaches not to have them threatened from drilling and oil spills. We have a choice between oil rigs and windmills. We choose windmills because the only oil we want to see on our beaches is sun tan oil. Drilling is not worth risking our billion dollar economy and tourism. We are joining hands with other people across the country today to call for a clean energy and stop the fossil foolishness of the past because our future depends on it," *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. *

Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
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