Economic Survival Rally held in Lafayette
By: Robin LaPointe
LAFAYETTE - Rally for Economic Survival was organized to show the widespread support among local businesses for lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling. Its overriding message was that “The moratorium has done more than stop drilling, it has brought the economic recovery on the Gulf Coast to a stand still.
Final preparation for the rally started bright and early Wednesday morning. The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce President Rob Guidry expected that the crowds would exceed the Cajundome’s 12,000 seat capacity.
For those who could not attend the rally the organizers provided ample online resources to keep up with the rally. It was streamed live and tweeted both by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association on their twitter account, LaOilGasAssoc. Facebook users could also post to the rally’s wall at www.facebook.com/rallyforeconomicsurvival.
The doors opened at 9 a.m. and supporters were encouraged to send their messages to President Obama by recording personal one minute videos in a specially set up video booth.
Following a performance by Sammy Kershaw and the National Anthem sung by a barbershop quartet, the rally began by reminding people just what was at stake. Thirty-three percent of domestic oil and gas comes from the Gulf of Mexico. There will be financial consequences throughout the U.S. if the moratorium is not lifted. People often forget how many less-than-obvious products have their origins in the petroleum industry.
Petroleum products are used in the production of the plastics which people interact with throughout the course of their lives. Some products that petroleum helps to make are shampoo, pens, football cleats, sweaters, deodorant, dyes, panty hose, nail polish, tires, golf bags, skis, antiseptics, food preservatives, and soap.
The rigs are leaving the Gulf and will not be returning. Dan Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association said the rigs had been coming to the Gulf from less geopolitically secure places. Now the moratorium is driving them and the revenue that the provide away.
Joey Durel, the Lafayette City-Parish President, said “The moratorium is hurting and not helping our state.”
“Lafayette’s unique geological position has protected us from the flood and other problems that coastal cities had faced,” Durel said. Tax revenues were starting to recover but the moratorium is putting a halt to our recovery. It is beginning to be felt industries who rely upon oil workers to spend their money within the city.
“Enough is enough and it is time to stop punishing American workers to meet a political agenda,” Lt Governor Scott Angelle said.
Angelle said we understand that green fuels and research may be in the works but we live in the real world and this cannot meet our present energy needs,
“America is not yet ready to get all of its fuels from the birds and bees and the flowers and the trees.”
Louisiana, he said, puts on its hard hats and work boots and gives this country the energy it needs to run.
Governor Bobby Jindal said we have a simple message, “Let our people work.”
“We are in the middle of a war to defend our way of life. We will win this war,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to fight our own federal government.”
“The fact the federal government cannot do its job shouldn’t cost Louisianans their jobs, “ Jindal said, “We won twice in federal court. They gave us another one size fits all moratorium that does nothing to keep us safe.”
“The rest of the country tends to forget that we provide them with the energy that makes the economy go. They need us to power their cars, their factories and homes,” the Governor said. “This moratorium does nothing to reduce our oil and gas needs.”
The Governor related a story about his meeting with President Obama in which Obama said to him,”Governor if people lose their jobs they can file a BP claim or an unemployment claim.”
Jindal said, “We don’t a BP check we don’t want an unemployment check we want to go back to work to power the American economy.”
Greg Stutes said in a recorded interview that, “The drilling moratorium I feel has made a bad situation worse not only for oil and gas industries but for non-related businesses as well due to the trickle-down effect.”
He said the moratorium is punishing the industry for what comes down to a matter of human error and not a failure of technology.
President Obama has said that $100 million dollars will go to fund help for unemployed oil workers. What organizers want is for the President to understand is that the job loss (which is currently projected to reach 12,000 to 15,000 jobs) could be permanent. Louisiana wants to go back to work supplying the energy needs of our country.