Oil spill sparks Southwest Florida protesters to speak out against dependence on fossil fuels

— The rain dampened their plans, but it didn’t stop Southwest Florida residents from protesting against the country’s dependence on fossil fuels in Naples and in Estero Tuesday night.

“I think the word is out,” Bonita Springs Joan Gelber, 49, who learned about the Naples’ Emergency Oil Spill Vigil at Vanderbilt beach online and braved Tuesday’s downpour to attend even after the event was moved to the Palm Beach Pizzeria across the street.

About 20 people attended each of the events, which were among hundreds MoveOn.org helped put together across the country to demand an end to the U.S. dependence on oil, a transition to clean energy and to show solidarity with those whose lives have been affected by the spill. MoveOn.org Political Action is a progressive political action committee.

“It’s clear we need a major public outcry to make this horrible tragedy a turning point,” MoveOn.org officials wrote on their website.

Noodles Cafe owner Seth Berman said he learned of Moveon.org’s nationwide vigils through a friend who suggested they put together an event in Naples.

“We’re worried about the town, we are worried about the community and we’re worried about the environment,” said Berman a local business owner for 19 years. “You don’t want to see harm come to it.”

Noodles Italian Café & Sushi Bar, InTroubleZone Productions and Andrea’s Organic Hair Studio put together the Naples event.

The events coincided with the 50th day of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico after the April 20th explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 people.

The spill is being called the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history — surpassing the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

“It’s hurting everybody, not only me,” said Palm Beach Pizza owner Tony Elmasllarr of the spill in the gulf.

Elmasllarr said many European tourists who would normally be in Southwest Florida this time of year have been scared away by the spill.

“If you compare it to last year it’s completely different,” he said of business, adding that it’s not only evident in restaurants like his, but also in the lack of bookings at local hotels up and down the beach.

The country needs to concentrate on developing clean energy, he said.

“It’s the only choice we got,” Elmasllarr said.

The problem is that most politicians only worry about getting re-elected, Berman said.

“We’re hoping the politicians start doing things that are right,” Berman said. “Hopefully they’ll get the message.”

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Comments » 3

notpre10shus writes:

It was a nice gesture on the event given by the Naples business owners who did so. But I cannot see how you can compare last years lack of tourism to this in the Naples area. The wealthy will always come and stay in the Big house..with the Big Pool and eat downtown on 5th ave. It is the Seafood Industry of Florida that is really going to suffer

suntan writes:

These people can run their cars on hot air.

u2cane writes:

I agree that we need to break the dependence and develop alternatives, but you have to wonder how these people traveled there for this event. Did they drive an electric car? ride the bus? ride a bike? or each drive individually in a gas guzzling car? There is humor in the fact they probably traveled individually and used more gas than they normally would have thereby defeating the purpose of the rally in the first place.

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