Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

On Heels of Gulf Disaster, NJ Groups Organizing Hands Across the Sand Events To Say No To Off-Shore Drilling New Report Finds the Value of the Shore Vastly Outweighs Any New Drilling

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Grace Sica, NJ Sierra Club, 732-841-6103
June 15, 2010
Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey, 917-449-6812
Meg Gardner, Clean Ocean Action, 732-872-0111

Asbury Park – New Jersey environmental and civic groups announced the official kick-off of organizing for three premier "Hands Across the Sands" events across the Jersey Shore on Saturday, June 26. The campaign is part of a national coordinated grassroots effort to protect our beaches from off-shore drilling by recruiting the public to show en mass their support for our beaches by locking hands together across beaches across the country at high noon on the 26th. There are three main beaches and towns along the Shore that will host large events, including Asbury Park, Seaside Heights and Atlantic City, as well as 10 additional beaches along the Shore.

"On June 26th we will link hands for the future of America, for the environment and the economy," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "We can continue failed policies of the past that have risk our coasts and our economy, or we can protect our coasts, tourism, and our economic future."

The organizations also released "Oceans Under the Gun," a joint Environment New Jersey and NJ Sierra Club report on marine resources threatened by the expansion of offshore drilling on the Atlantic Coast.

"As summer rolls into the Shore, we can’t forget that oil companies – even in light of the disaster in the Gulf – are still angling to drill off the Atlantic Coast," said Doug O’Malley, field director for Environment New Jersey. "Across the state, the public is going to tell the President hands off our beaches and urge him to ban new off-shore drilling."

The report includes an overview of the marine and coastal environment in the Mid-Atlantic region where new offshore drilling has been proposed. The report highlights marine ecosystems and the value of coastal recreation and fishing (commercial and recreational) for New Jersey. The report also compares the value of sustainable activities like tourism and fishing to the value of estimated oil and natural gas resources in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The report shows that the value of the sustainable economy based on tourism and fishing in the greater New Jersey region is over 12 times larger than the oil and gas resources that we might be able to find off-shore.

"As we watch in rapt horror at the suffering living-dead marine life coated in molasses-like toxic oil, we must be moved to act, now. To start, we can stand together, join hands in solidarity to support our community in the Gulf of Mexico. Then vow to wage a personal "war against oil," oppose off shore drilling, and put conservation and efficiency first," said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director, Clean Ocean Action. The current event info can be found at http://www.handsacrossthesand.com/new-jersey/. On the day of the event, beach-goers will arrive at the beach at 11 a.m., and in select beaches, receive special wrist-bands to allow them access to the beach for the event. At noon, all the participants for the event will gather together and spread across the beach and lock hands for 15 minutes, with a clear message to oil companies – hands off our sands. "As this report clearly states, clean oceans, waves, and beaches are worth far more economically than the oil and gas resources in these waters.  Offshore oil drilling is not the answer and the Surfrider Foundation will continue to fight more offshore drilling around the country," said John Weber, Northeast Regional Manager of the Surfrider Foundaton. 
Participants can RSVP for the premier events at select Facebook pages:

Seaside Heights: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=125558947478411".
Asbury Park: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=132480546769181&ref=ts
Atlantic City: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=130651916961088.

"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 in New Jersey, the Arctic Ocean deserves special protection," said Julia Millan Shaw, New Jersey Field Staff Representative for 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." Over the next few months Congress will decide whether to allow expanded drilling off our coasts as part of the energy and global warming legislation now moving through Congress. The eastern Gulf of Mexico is the area most at risk, but other regions like California, New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast are also threatened by one proposal or another.