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Gulf oil spill: Pro-drilling rally pushes back at Obama moratorium

July 21, 2010 | 11:09 am

Thousands of Louisianans filled the Cajundome stadium in Lafayette Wednesday to protest the federal moratorium on exploratory drilling for oil in deep-sea waters.

“The greatest risk to  our economy is the moratorium,” Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel said to huge applause. Lafayette is a city of about 110,000, a two-hour drive west of New Orleans and is heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry.

“We have come to send a message to Washington, D.C.: Let our people work,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, tieless with a blue button-down shirt.

“We are in a war to defend our way of life. We will win this war,” Jindal said. “We shouldn’t have to fight our own federal government. Just as we’re fighting one disaster, we’re fighting another disaster caused by Washington, D.C.

The rally was financially supported with major support of oil and gas companies, as well as other leading industries in the region, including ammonia producers, bankers, accountants and the local chambers of commerce.

It was clear that the rally was staged in hopes to reach an audience of national media, with some speakers urging the media to pick up the story.

Many employees said they were encouraged by their bosses to attend the rally, and some carpooled in vans and buses to arrive.

“People are going to lose their jobs,” said John Courville, 45, of Carencro, La., who works for a construction equipment company. He said his company hasn’t been hurt, but he’s worried that the moratorium will be a drag on the local economy. Courville said he understood the worry about wildlife safety, but said, “I don’t think it’s worth the job loss.”

On a nearby street corner, a dozen of counter-protesters held signs supporting the moratorium.

“Let’s quit blaming President Obama for this oil spill. He’s looking out for our safety,” said Wallace Senegal, 63, of Lafayette, holding a sign that said, “We support wildlife and fisheries.”

“Make sure the rig is safe,” Senegal said.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II in Lafayette, La.

Read an updated story on the Rally for Economic Survival here.