The message to the federal government from Wednesday's Rally For Economic Survival was clear: End the arbitrary deepwater drilling moratorium and let the Gulf Coast get back to work.
"If they hear nothing else from today, they need to hear us say this: Let us work. We don't want a BP check. We don't want an unemployment check. We want to go back to work," Gov. Bobby Jindal said to applause from the crowd.
"Enough is enough, and it's time to stop punishing American workers," said Lt. Governor Scott Angelle.
Thousands of concerned citizens from throughout the state filled the seats at Lafayette's Cajundome to protest against the federal moratorium on offshore drilling.
"We should not have to fight our own federal government," Jindal said. "They gave us a second arbitrary and capricious one-size-fits-all moratorium that does nothing to make the Gulf safer. And here is what is so dangerous: The folks in Washington, they don't understand energy production. Here in Louisiana, we have been producing energy for the rest of the country for decades.
"This moratorium does nothing to reduce our energy needs," he said.
Angelle discussed the importance of Louisiana in fueling the nation and doing what many other states do not want to do. He also said that while he is not against alternative fuels, he doesn't believe the country, as a whole, is ready to move in that direction.
"Let's get real. America is not ready to get their fuel from the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees," he said.
Angelle also emphasized that the moratorium doesn't hurt the heads of the oil companies. It's the average citizen who feels the blow.
"You are crippling the middle class of the Gulf Coast," he said.
Jindal said estimates put the job loss from the moratorium in Louisiana alone at nearly 20,000, as platforms are shuttered and companies negotiate to move rigs to other countries.
"The administration said to us that the rigs will come back. Like you can turn off or on a switch," he said. "They don't understand that once they are gone, they are gone for years. The rigs are losing half a million dollars a day. They aren't going to wait."
The effect will be felt by everyone throughout the Gulf, officials said.
"At this point, our area has been spared any major damages from the oil spill itself. However, the moratorium will cost the entire state and all coastal regions a tremendous loss of jobs" said George Swift, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance President and CEO, in a phone interview.
Swift's organization was a sponsor of the rally. The group encouraged local businesses and citizens to attend the meeting and organized a local contingency of attendees.
"America needs the oil and gas we produce. The moratorium would be another disaster for the state, and Louisiana has been through enough," Swift said. "We hope federal officials will reconsider and allow drilling to continue."
Many officials are confident that the state and its citizens will persevere.
"We will win this war," Jindal said.
Southwest Daily News