Group plans energy rally, Group plans energy rally

LAFAYETTE - A July 21 rally could be the nation’s largest protest of the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling.

The Cajundome in Lafayette will be the stage for the Rally for Economic Survival. It is slated from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is a combined effort of several government, industry and business groups. The event will seek to unify opposition to the moratorium and send a loud and clear message to the Obama administration to lift the ban.

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association said, “There’s a deaf ear being turned on the [oil and gas] industry and Louisiana. We need to do anything we can to move the needle.”

Lafayette was chosen, according to Briggs, because more than 10 percent of the local workforce is employed in the oil and gas industry. The rally was initially planned for the front steps of the state Capitol.

“Lafayette is going to be the most impacted community, no question,” he said. “This will affect every single person who lives here.”

Economists have predicted the moratorium will cost the state thousands of jobs. Lafayette is predicted to bear a significant share of that burden.

Furthermore, with such a large percentage of the local work force at stake, there have also been concerns of a trickle-down effect on the local economy.

Among industries that have signed up to support the rally are restaurant owners, bankers and realtors.

“The restaurant industry will certainly be impacted if the moratorium lasts six months or longer,” said Wendy Waren, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Restaurant Association. “It’s going to affect disposable income, a big portion of which is spent in restaurants in Louisiana.”

The rally is expected to provide a video booth that people can use to send a personal message to the administration and will feature local, state and national speakers.

The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association is urging member businesses to give their employees an extended lunch break to participate in the rally.

“It’s not about one person from each company going,” said Briggs. “It’s about everyone going if they can. We intend to fill that dome and the convention center.”

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