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Groups Organize Boston Rally Against George's Bank Drilling


Environmental activists and local fishermen will stage a rally today to protest the planned sale of offshore oil drilling rights on George's Bank.

The federal government is scheduled to auction off tracts of George's Bank to oil companies on December 18 unless a federal court blocks the sale.

The protesters are concerned that offshore drilling, without the necessary safety precautions, will endanger the marine environment and destroy one of the world's richest fishing areas. George's Bank supplies 17 per cent of the United State's fish catch and 14 per cent of the world's seafood, Mark Webber, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth, said yesterday.

Rally organizers, which include the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, say the demonstration is designed to promote widespread opposition to the drilling.

Protesters will throw fish from the famed Boston Tea Party ship at 12:30 p.m. today in a symbolic reenactment of the Boston Tea Party.

Peter Dykstra, Greenpeace spokesman, said yesterday the offshore drilling is unnecessary and hazardous because the estaimted amount of oil in George's Bank is low and because there are no environmental safeguards in the proposed plan.

But Frank Tivan, associate director of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council, cited offshore operations in the North Sea, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico as proof that drilling does not damage the ocean environment. "The catch of fish in the North Sea has increased four times. Rigs didn't impede the fishing industry," Tivan said.

He added that although 23,000 offshore wells have been drilled in the United States, only one has had a serious blowout and it did not result in any lasting damage to fish or beach

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