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Gulf Oil Disaster Ripples to WI

June 25, 2010

MADISON, Wisc. - An event that started in Florida aimed at warning of the dangers of offshore oil drilling has spread to Wisconsin. It's called Hands Across the Sand, and the mission is to steer energy policy away from dependence on fossil fuels and toward clean energy. In February, people joined hands across Florida beaches, but the disaster in the Gulf has pushed the significance of the event far beyond Florida, to places like Wisconsin, according to founder and Florida restaurant owner Dave Rauschkolb.

"Americans are going to be joining hands. It doesn't matter whether they are Democrats, Republicans, conservatives or liberals. Americans feel very strongly and deeply about their coastal heritage."

On Saturday at noon, people will join hands in Madison at Law Park on the shore of Lake Monona. Wisconsin organizers say they want to "draw a proverbial line in the sand against offshore drilling and in favor of clean, renewable energy."

Shannon Miller, Florida program coordinator for Defenders of Wildlife, says the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is exactly what they feared and warned of in February.

"This was our worst nightmare. This is exactly what we were trying to tell people was going to happen. In fact, it's what we were trying to get our governments to prevent."

Miller says the oil spewing into the Gulf now has created a new urgency and put the focus on Hands Across the Sand.

"Unfortunately, it had to be this spill that created such a buzz about it, but I think people now are really concerned."

She is convinced that it will take years before the ecological and environmental impacts of the disaster are fully understood. Information about the events is online at Get more headlines like this via email