The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Democracy in Action

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted August 28, 2009

If you ever want to see democracy in action, attend an Energy Citizens rally for jobs and affordable energy. Thursday, at the rally in Tampa, Florida, 175 people of all ages came together in hopes of sending a message to their elected officials in Tallahassee and Washington.

"Why are you here?" I asked several people as they entered the Old Ritz Theater in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood.

The responses varied greatly from, "I'm here for my kids and grandkids," and "I'm a Marine and my father fought in World War II," to "We have to take action to save America." Some were members of Glen Beck's 9-12 organization that's planning a massive march in Washington.

Others were involved in the Tea Party movement. Some were hoping to convince Florida state officials to extend the state boundary farther into the Gulf of Mexico so Floridians, rather than the federal government, would receive the financial benefits of offshore oil and natural development. And all of them were united in their concern over the climate bill that was narrowly passed by the House of Representatives.

If they were looking for a rousing political event, they weren't disappointed. Several times during the event, participants waved signs and chanted. Taking a page from the recent presidential campaign, they said in unison, "Yes, we can" when asked whether they could have an impact on the climate bill debate.

Several speakers described how higher energy costs could affect their lives, and at least two said the United States needs to address climate change, adding that the Senate should reject the House bill and craft something better.

Perhaps the best line of the rally was offered by Allen Douglas of NFIB. He said the supporters of the House-passed climate bill were right: the bill will create jobs - in India. The crowd agreed.

Near the end of the rally, a protester seated near the front of the room stood and faced the audience. "What's the solution? What's the solution?" he asked repeatedly. The crowd had an answer for him. Spontaneously, they began to chant, "Drill, baby, drill! Drill, baby, drill!"

Hear stories from Energy Citizens across the country, and read more about the rallies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.