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Forecast for your day at the beach Saturday: Sun, sand and protesters

Groups are expected to link hands at more than a dozen beaches across the Carolinas coast Saturday to protest oil and gas drilling. “Hands Across the Sand” is part of 117 coordinated events taking place in 18 states and seven other countries. This drilling rig is off California.
Groups are expected to link hands at more than a dozen beaches across the Carolinas coast Saturday to protest oil and gas drilling. “Hands Across the Sand” is part of 117 coordinated events taking place in 18 states and seven other countries. This drilling rig is off California. Venoco via AP

Groups of people are expected to link hands at more than a dozen beaches across the Carolinas coast Saturday to protest oil and gas drilling.

"Hands Across the Sand" is part of 117 coordinated events taking place in 18 states and seven other countries. Participants are expected to join hands for 15 minutes starting at noon.

Events in North Carolina are expected from Sunset Beach, on the state's southern tip, to Nags Head on the Outer Banks. In South Carolina, events are expected on Hilton Head Island, Folly Beach, North Litchfield Beach and Myrtle Beach.

"We are joining hands to end our dependence on oil and coal and embrace a clean energy future for a sustainable planet," Hands Across the Sand's executive director, Dede Shelton, wrote on the group's website. "Safe food, clean water and clean air are the essential fundamental elements of our survival as a species. Offshore oil spills and the burning of fossil fuels & coal burning power plants present a threat to all of the above."

Nearly 1,000 people gathered on St. Pete Beach on Feb. 13 to protest plans for drilling off Florida's Gulf Coast, the group says.

Several hundred people, many of them from coastal counties, gathered in Raleigh in February for North Carolina's only public hearing on the Trump administration's plan to open the Atlantic coast to oil and gas exploration.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order soon after taking office last year to return hundreds of miles of federal waters, including the Atlantic, to eligibility for offshore drilling.

The crowd in Raleigh involved opponents of the plan, including Gov. Roy Cooper's administration, as well as supporters. Those in support say exploration would create thousands of high-paying jobs and move the U.S. toward energy independence. But the plan has generated broad opposition on the coast, where critics say the risk of a spill could ruin the state's large coastal tourism economy.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051; @bhender
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