Hands Across the Sand protest planned for Saturday

Floridians who don't want oil drilling as close as 3 miles head for the beaches this Saturday for the simplest demonstration ever.

For those joining Hands Across the Sand, here's the drill: "Step 1. Go to the beach at 1 p.m. for one hour, rain or shine. Step 2. At 1:30 p.m., hold hands, forming lines in the sand against oil drilling in our coastal waters. Step 3. Leave only footprints." That's it.

Palm Beach County's Surfrider Foundation chapter suggests wearing black to symbolize oil. A Treasure Coast group adds: "Use only approved beach accesses and parking. Create as many lines or as long a line as you wish. Be courteous and respectful to those who disagree with your view."

A surfer/restaurant owner in the Gulf Coast town of Seaside, Dave Rauschkolb, got the idea for a "human line in the sand" last fall to let legislators know that many residents want to protect beaches from near-shore drilling. Next came a Web site — www.handsacrossthesand.org — where volunteers can download everything from radio spots and literature to T-shirt designs and banners, and a Facebook page. Chambers of commerce in the Panhandle and Tampa Bay joined. Local governments signed on, and not just those in coastal areas that oil and natural gas companies have targeted.

More Floridians have begun to realize that the Gulf Stream could carry a spill from the west coast and deposit oil on east coast beaches. Broward County, Miami Beach and Key West got on board. The Audubon Society, the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club are among the environmental groups backing the event. "We have close to 70 beaches around the state, from Jacksonville to Miami, from Key West to Pensacola," Mr. Rauschkolb said, "and more signing up every day."

Last year, the Florida House abolished the ban on drilling in state waters, from 3 to 10 miles offshore. The Senate refused to take up the issue, but it will come up again during this year's session that begins March 2. The federal ban on drilling closer than 125 miles from shore is under attack in the Senate.

Hands Across the Sand, Mr. Rauschkolb said, already has educated beachgoers. "Oil is on the lips of Floridians," he said, "and they don't like the taste of it."

Mr. Rauschkolb is a Surf­rider member. The Palm Beach County chapter blocked a beach renourishment project in the town of Palm Beach and now is battling a $30 million plan to build breakwaters off Singer Island. "We're not a bunch of potheads or burnt-out surfers," chapter Vice Chairman Todd Remmel said. "Many of our members are educated, with backgrounds in science." He joined Hands Across the Sand "because I want my kids to have the same opportunity to enjoy the beaches that I did." Mr. Rauschkolb likes to surf where he can "sit and see the bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water … the last thing I want to see is oil rigs obscuring the horizon and fouling our beaches."

This is the continuing problem we face today:  We want more oil, so go drill for it...in someone else's back yard.  We want to close Guantanamo....just take them to someone else's backyard.....we need nuclear power, but dump the waste in someone else's backyard (for 10-20,000 years).  I go to Santa Barbara in the summer to visit a friend and they have oil rigs right along the coast.  In fact, there was a very famous oil spill there in the 1970's.  Rigs on the horizon and spills are the price we will pay for using enormous amounts of cheap oil and yet there is no leadership in Washington for alternative energy sources.  George Bush said, "The American way of life is non-negotiable".  So take your pick, oil rigs off the Florida coast or wars in the middle east to protect the supply.

Back to Santa Barbara.   Actually, the rigs are very unobtrusive.  And my wife, the world's biggest SB fan, has never even mentioned them.  An oil rig on the horizon is like a disability...you get used to it.

Don't get me wrong, I spend as much time at the ocean as anyone and post videos on it all the time over at You Tube (www.youtube.com/richardsites) and growing up in South Florida love the water.  My comment is only that we are hyper-dependent on oil and won't change our habits, so this is the mess we find ourselves in.

There is more on Jupiter at: http://www.coastalfloridarealestate.net/

Hands Across the Sand, Mr. Remmel said, could be "the largest public gathering in the state's history." The organizers' tip sheet has one last suggestion: "Enjoy yourself. It's the beach!"