“This oil spill is the beginning of the end of an era” of fossil fuel dependence, said North Merrick Civic Association President Claudia Borecky, referring to the British Petroleum gusher in the Gulf of Mexico that has, since April, leaked an estimated 140 million gallons of crude oil, poisoned billions of gallons of seawater and freshwater wetlands, and killed untold numbers of wildlife.
Borecky was speaking at a June 26 demonstration at the Neptune Boulevard entrance to the Long Beach boardwalk, organized by Hands Across the Sand, a non-profit environmental group committed to abolishing offshore oil drilling. Borecky was among roughly 75 people, some from as far as Manhattan, who turned out for the event.
The demonstration was one of more than 900 held in 163 countries on Saturday to call on oil company officials to stop drilling in the ocean and concentrate their vast resources on producing greater amounts of power using alternative technologies such as solar and wind.
At the Neptune Boulevard demonstration, participants joined hands along the edge of the boardwalk facing the beach, drawing a symbolic line against oil drilling. (Demonstrators were not permitted on the beach without visitor passes.)
Borecky said she believes the U.S. must move toward alternative energy or eventually lose its place as a “world leader.”
Caroline Bigelow of Long Beach organized the demonstration, one of three in Long Beach. The BP spill, she said, “just really lit a fire” in activists such as her. “The main philosophy” of Hands Across the Sand, she said, “is no to offshore drilling and yes to alternative energy.”
Floridian Dave Rauschkolb founded Hands Across the Sand last October to protest a measure in the Florida Legislature to allow offshore drilling within three miles of the Sunshine State’s shoreline. The first Hands Across the Sand demonstration took place Feb. 13, with thousands of Floridians taking part on 90 beaches. Shortly after, the Legislature dropped plans to allow “near-shore” drilling. Since the BP spill, Hands Across the Sand has gained a worldwide following on its website, handsacrossthesand.com.