TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — Leaders and environmental groups continue calls to keep Georgia’s coast clean. Advocates are calling on the Biden administration to permanently ban offshore drilling, which environmental groups say has devastating effects on marine life.
Saturday, the community will gather for Hands Across the Sand, where business owners, environmental groups and elected officials will speak out against offshore drilling.
“Every voice has got to be clear and loud on this issue because that’s when you get things done,” Mayor Shirley Sessions said. “We’ve really got to take action and recognize this is our one last chance. We better make it a good one.”
Offshore drilling is a process that involves drilling holes into the ocean floor to extract oil and gas. Environmental groups argue it’s one of the worst threats to marine life.
We certainly know the risks and just taking a look at what happened 12 years ago with the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Hermina Glass-Hill, a field representative for Oceana. “Thousands and thousands of acres were impacted by the oil spill. Marine animals were impacted and coastal communities and the tourism economy was impacted.”
Glass-Hill said Oceana, an international organization, has a mission to save and restore the world’s oceans and Saturday’s event is meant to be an global call to action.
Former President Trump considered allowing oil drilling in Georgia and South Carolina waters in 2017. But in 2020, he reversed course and instead put a 10-year moratorium on the practice.
But advocates say there’s more to be done.
“We are hoping that the Biden administration will pay attention and hear our calls for no new offshore drilling and a permanent ban on offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the eastern Gulf of Mexico,” Glass-Hill said.
Mayor Sessions will be part of Saturday’s demonstration. She said offshore drilling would be devastating for Tybee and wants to help save Georgia’s 100-mile coastline.
“We can all make a difference individually and then collectively when we band together on projects like this and speak out not as a protest, but as a request,” Sessions said.
Hands Across the Sand starts at 11 a.m. at the Tybee Island Pier. Captain Planet Foundation, Surfriders, Fight Dirty Tybee, Keep Golden Isles Beautiful and RiverRat Productions are co-hosts of the event with Oceana.
Gov. Brian Kemp and Rep. Buddy Carter have both also said they oppose drilling in Georgia’s waters. It was also a campaign promise from President Biden to stop new offshore drilling.