Rally touts fossil-fuel-free future 

A rally sign advocates for a fossil-fuel-free - future. - COURTESY OF ANGIE BROOKS
  • A rally sign advocates for a fossil-fuel-freefuture.
  • Courtesy of Angie Brooks

When proponents of clean energy gather in Broad Ripple Saturday to advocate an evolution away from fossil fuels, they won't be alone.

The local demonstration is planned in conjunction with a series of actions around the world centered on the theme of ending fossil-fuel dependency and off-shore drilling. Global event organizer, Hands Across the Sand, reports that activists are planning to gather at noon in their respective time zones in at least 32 states and five continents.

"Hoosiers need to take climate change, and our dependency on fossil fuels seriously," local event organizer Angie Brooks said. "Maybe this year, when the high was 100 degrees day after day, and our state is brown instead of green, we should consider going green, instead of brown."

The event kicks off in New Zealand, moving around the globe throughout the day with the final action set to take place in Hawaii. In Indiana, the rally is set for noon Aug. 4 near the Monon Trail on the corner of Coil Street and Cornell Avenue. Participants are welcome to arrive as early as 10:30 a.m. at 6528 Cornell Ave. to create signs. Participants are encouraged to utilize public transportation, ride bikes, or carpool.

"We are all energy, need energy, use energy," Brooks said. "Energy is non-partisan. This is a family-friendly, peaceful gathering."

Brooks was born and raised in Indiana, but developed her sense of environmental activism while living in Florida. She learned about the fragility of ecosystems living on the Gulf Coast, in Naples, where she taught her daughter to swim. She held a Hands Across the Sand event in Atlanta following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and hopes that the upcoming action will increase awareness of the ongoing issues related to the disaster.

Tourism and fishing industries are still recovering from the explosion on British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed 11 workers, injured 17 others and launched an epic oil spill of more than 200 million gallons that is responsible for what officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration call the largest Natural Resources Damage Assessment ever taken.

Among the damage so far chronicled by NOAA scientists: dead and dying coral and anemic, underweight dolphins with compromised immune systems and liver and lung diseases related to oil exposure.

Election season is also likely to enflame the rhetoric surrounding energy issues.

On July 25, House Republicans voted to revoke the Obama administration's five-year plan for offshore drilling.

The Interior Department's 2012-2017 offshore oil and gas leasing program, proposed 15 potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and around Alaska, while the Republicans' plan, according to a July 25 Politico story, "provides for 29 lease sales over the same five-year period, and includes areas of the Atlantic coast from Maine to Virginia, and areas off the southern coast of California as well as Alaskan and Gulf areas."

Pundits predict the effort is not likely to find support in the Senate, plus the White House promised a veto. Still, it will force several legislators to take a public stance on the issue in an election year.

Republicans estimate an increase in offshore drilling would bring in $600 million, along with thousands of jobs.

A statement from the Office of Management and Budget said the administration's plan "makes areas containing more than 75 percent of estimated, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in our oceans available for exploration and development — including all of the highest resource areas on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf."

Among the chief complaints about the Republicans' proposed expansion, officials said, the proposal would open several new areas to potential drilling without oversight from the secretary of the interior, who is charged with assessing the suitability of new sites.

"The bill also would establish unworkable deadlines and substantive and procedural limitations on important environmental review and other analysis that is critical to complying with laws," officials said, naming the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Clean Water Act.

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