Rally for Economic Survival is Astroturf Protest of Drilling Ban

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Tomorrow morning at the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana, the Rally for Economic Survival, a gathering featuring everyone from Governor Bobby Jindal to citizen activists, intends to give “a united voice to Louisiana citizens impacted by the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling.” Rally organizer Gifford Briggs, a vice-president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA), says the idea for the rally came from regular folks. “A group of concerned citizens came to us talking about their concerns with what’s going on with the moratorium,” he told me. “They didn’t necessarily have the financial capability or the organization to be able to orchestrate and make it happen, and that’s where we came in.”

Yet Briggs was hard-pressed to elaborate on the rally’s grassroots ties. At first he said the idea had come from “an engineer and his wife and family” and Ewell Smith, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. But when I called Smith, he gave me a different story. “The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association approached me,” he said. “A friend of mine did an introduction to some of the folks in the industry, and the next thing you know they were reaching out to me to speak at this event and asked me to coordinate putting it together.”

“Well, I mean, you know, that may have been the case,” Briggs replied when I called him back.  “It happened sort of so fast.” He added that the idea for the rally came out of a meeting with 30 people held at LOGA’s Baton Rouge office. But he was still confident that the petroleum engineer, CJ McDonald, and somebody named Becky Plummer had raised the idea of a rally before LOGA did. I was unable to reach either of them for comment.

Perhaps not coincidentally, LOGA’s rally looks a lot like the “citizen” rallies against climate change legislation that the American Petroleum Institute organized last year through its front group, Energy Citizens. The Energy Citizens website promotes the Rally for Economic Survival and ties the Gulf spill to the threat of higher taxes on oil companies.  “[T]his tragedy is being exploited to undermine realistic energy policies that would benefit our nation,” says an Energy Citizens email sent to its followers last week. “As only one example, some policymakers are attempting to levy billions of dollars in new taxes on America’s energy companies—taxes that could impact every American industry employee, and every American energy consumer.”

That LOGA sees the need to cover its tracks in Louisiana, a black-blooded oil state where even fishermen oppose the drilling moratorium, illustrates the unprecedented unpopularity of the oil industry. If it’s going to win over national politicans and media, it’ll need to do more than throw a party for itself.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate