Offshore drilling opponents hold event in Myrtle Beach

bdickerson@thesunnews.comAugust 4, 2012 

— Their message was simple: Leave our coastal waters alone.

On Saturday, 15 area residents gathered in the sands near Myrtle Beach’s Plyler Park and joined hands in opposition to offshore oil drilling. It was a few less than the nearly 30 participants the event drew last year, but the passion remained.

This marked the third year for Hands Across the Sand, a national grass-roots effort opposed to expanded offshore drilling and in support of clean energy solutions for a sustainable planet. Supporters from around the country gathered at beaches Saturday at noon to make their statement.

Ernestine Allen took part in Myrtle Beach’s event. She supports the cause because she fears that one day, the Grand Strand’s beaches could be tarnished by an oil spill like the one that devastated the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

“We want to continue to enjoy the beach,” Allen said.

This year’s effort comes less than two months after S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan voiced their support for federal legislation that would allow drilling of oil and gas off the Palmetto State’s coast.

Their argument was the state’s need for jobs and outcome outweigh potential problems.

“There is a risk in everything you do, but the biggest risk is to do nothing,” said Graham. He said his plan would protect the environment and bar drilling in a 10-mile buffer zone off the coast.

That view was in stark contrast to those gathered on Myrtle Beach’s shores Saturday afternoon. One was dressed as a sea turtle and wore a sign that stated, “Offshore oil drilling is bad for your babies and mine.”

At noon, the opponents joined hands in solidarity and held them for more than five minutes.

Toward the end of their demonstration, they chanted in unison, “No drilling off our shores.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.

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