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Coast Residents Express Opposition To Drilling
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A Hands Across the Sand gathering in Gulfport
Evelina Burnett

About a dozen coast residents gathered on the beach in Gulfport Saturday to show their opposition to offshore drilling. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports.

“Thanks everybody for coming, we’re just going to join hands out here on the beach, so if y’all just want to start walking out here…”

A small group of coast residents walk to near the water’s edge, stretch out and clasp hands. They were gathered to show their opposition to offshore drilling, one of simliar events held this weekend around the world called Hands Across the Sand. Mississippi event organizer Howard Page, with the Gulf Restoration Network, says one of the things they’d like to see here is no new offshore oil leases.

“Presently only 18 percent of the existing leases are being drilled," Page says, "so there are plenty of lands that are already leased offshore that can continue to be drilled for up to 50 more years, and lots of new potentials for drilling, so what we want is no new leasing. We want to start moving to a better future and better energy economy."

Glenn Cobb is a board member of the Biloxi-based Steps Coalition. He says, there are better options than offshore drilling.

“It’s sending a message, not just here in the Gulfport, Mississippi, area, but all across the country, that there are more efficient ways to get energy.”

President Donald Trump has vowed to expand offshore drilling and just last month signed an executive order to roll-back some Obama era rules on oil-rig safety and drilling -- though low oil prices mean it's unlikely that actual expansion would take place any time soon.

Plans for offshore lease sales in Mississippi waters were halted three years ago after a court found the state hadn’t provided enough analysis of the economic impact of drilling. A spokesman for the Mississippi Development Authority on Friday said he was unaware of any immediate plans for leasing activities.