Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hundreds line Pinellas County beaches to protest near-shore oil drilling

In a show of solidarity against drilling off Florida, hundreds of protesters form a line along the coast at St. Pete Beach on Saturday.

LARA CERRI | Times

In a show of solidarity against drilling off Florida, hundreds of protesters form a line along the coast at St. Pete Beach on Saturday.

ST. PETE BEACH — Bob Ullmark didn't have any trouble explaining why he came to the beach on a chilly, windy Saturday.

"We don't want any nasty oil in the water," said Ullmark, 53, of St. Petersburg.

Neither did U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores: "We're not going to stand here and allow drilling right off these beautiful beaches."

Hundreds lined Pinellas County's beaches and many more came to more than 70 coastal locations around Florida to protest the idea of drilling close to the state's shoreline. They dressed in black, the color of an oil spill, and held hands in a long lines running down several beaches, including Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island and Indian Rocks Beach.

At Stuart Beach, Brent McAhren said, "I've seen Louisiana's beaches fouled with oil from rigs, and I don't want it here." In Fort Lauderdale, some demonstrators showed up in alligator, dolphin and mermaid outfits. In Pinellas County, an airplane towed a banner that read, "Love tourists — not drilling."

The overall message was "no drilling off our coast," said Phil Compton, regional representative for the Sierra Club, one of the organizers. "Our $65 billion tourism economy is worth far more than any return we might get for drilling."

Compton said a major oil spill would get sucked into Florida's looping water current and possibly spread oil around the state, devastating tourism.

At a gathering of supporters in St. Pete Beach just before everyone lined up, Democrats such as Pinellas Commissioner Ken Welch, state Rep. Rick Kriseman, and state Sen. Charlie Justice joined Republicans such as state Rep. Jim Frishe, state Sen. Dennis Jones and Young.

"This is bipartisan, you have Republicans and Democrats," Kriseman said.

Bipartisan, but not necessarily unanimous. High oil prices, the faltering economy and a quest for U.S. energy independence have led more people to push for drilling.

A bill to expand oil drilling near Florida's coastline passed the Florida House last year, but failed in the Senate. Some members of Congress have advocated changing laws to allow drilling closer to Florida.

In October, 54 percent of Florida voters supported drilling off the state's coast and 40 percent opposed it, according to a St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll.

But the demonstrators at "Hands Across the Sand" on Saturday said that could be a disaster, especially in the case of an oil spill.

"We don't want to see any environmental catastrophes," added Kathy Sterling, 30, of St. Petersburg, who brought her 1-year-old daughter, Lily.

Information from the Stuart News and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel was used in this report.

Hundreds line Pinellas County beaches to protest near-shore oil drilling 02/13/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 14, 2010 8:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cue the Scott Frost to Nebraska speculation

    Blogs

    Nebraska shook up the college sports world Thursday afternoon when it fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

    And that should scare UCF fans.

  2. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  3. Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to help more kids in Tampa Bay

    Health

    The Make-A-Wish Foundation is on the lookout for sick children in the Tampa Bay area who need a once-in-a-lifetime pick-me-up.

    Grace Savage, a 10-year-old girl with a chromosomal disorder made a trek to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium last year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation intends to beef up its presence in the Tampa Bay area after a reorganization. The region is now the responsibility of the foundation's Southern Florida chapter, one of the most active in the country, with more than 11,000 wishes granted so far. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times ]
  4. William March: Frank Reddick says all-white Tampa council possible

    Elections

    A decline in the percentage of black voters in Tampa's only majority-black City Council district, District 5, has council member Frank Reddick worried.

    City Council member Frank Reddick said that if Tampa can't maintain African-American voter numbers, he could be the council's last African-American representative. [JAMES BORCHUK   |   Times (2016)]
  5. Florida hides details in nursing home reports. Federal agencies don't.

    Medicine

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott widened his offensive Thursday against the Broward nursing home he blames for the deaths of 10 residents by setting up a tip line for information, but when it comes to access to the inspection reports of all nursing homes, the governor's administration has heavily censored what the …

    In the foreground is a document detailing the findings of a Feb. 2016 inspection at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills obtained from a federal agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Behind it is the state?€™s version of the same document, from the Agency for Health Care Administration, showing how it has been redacted before being released to the public. [Miami Herald]