By Peter Vankevich
In early January, President Donald Trump’s administration announced a five-year plan that would invite drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. So, with the real possibility of offshore drilling off the mid-Atlantic coast looming again, islanders and visitors will once again have an opportunity to show their opposition by participating in Hands Across the Sand demonstration at noon Saturday (May 19) at the Lifeguard Beach.
This event is held to raise awareness about the protection of coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, the fishing industry and coastal ecosystems. It began in 2010 and grew into an international movement after the BP oil disaster in April that year. People came together to join hands, forming symbolic barriers against spilled oil and to stand against the impacts of other forms of extreme energy. Ocracoke has participated every year since its beginnings.
According to Oceana, the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization, as of April 2018, more than 190 East Coast municipalities and over 1,200 local, state and federal elected officials have opposed offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration. Hyde County Commissioners have voiced their opposition.
More than 100 events in 17 states and seven countries have already registered on the Hands Across the Sands website. In North Carolina, in addition to Ocracoke, groups will gather in Nags Head, Emerald Isle, Wrightsville and Sunset Beach as well as the other beaches of Brunswick County.
Everyone is asked to meet at the beach, and all will hold hands at noon for 15 minutes, said Mickey Baker, the Ocracoke Island coordinator.
As 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.
For more information, go to: http://handsacrossthesand.org.