The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Defending the American Dream

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted September 4, 2009

We all know what Astroturf is on the gridiron, but what does it mean when it's applied to a series of very successful Energy Citizens rallies?

Based on what I've seen at six of the rallies, it is a misapplied term that demeans the spirit and the passion of the people who participated. Simply put, it disses them. And those who disrespect them apparently don't understand the depth of their feelings about the misguided Waxman-Markey bill.

Look at the facts. So far 18 rallies have been held in 17 states. More than 12,000 people from all walks of life have attended. Many were seniors who told me they heard about the rally on the radio or through a phone call from a friend. Others included laborers, truckers, farmers, homemakers, small business people, veterans, and the unemployed. A contingent of energy workers attended about four of the rallies. Were they bused in? In some cases, yes. And it was safer and more fuel efficient for them to travel by bus than to drive to the rallies in their private cars.

About 250 national and local organizations are sponsoring the rallies. They include associations that represent a broad spectrum of interests. API is one of the founding members, but is not the only one that is helping to provide forums where citizens can come together.

No one has been forced to attend. No one has been paid to attend. People come to the rallies because they choose to be there. And nearly everyone in attendance has wanted to lend his or her voice to the rising tide of concern that's welling up all over America about the Waxman-Markey climate bill.

This bill, if passed by the U.S. Senate, could hurt consumers all over America. Multiple studies have shown that it would reduce the ability of families to pay their bills and put food on the table. In Alaska, for example, the Waxman-Markey bill would reduce the purchasing power of the average household by about $325 a month. The bill also would put two million Americans out of work, and that's after you factor in the creation of green jobs. Waxman-Markey also would increase energy costs for everyone, pushing gasoline costs up by 58 percent, according to one study.

Do Americans have the right to be worried about the impact of the Waxman-Markey bill? Yes. Is it appropriate to throw verbal stones at them and accuse them of being part of a so-called Astroturf campaign? No.

The Waxman-Markey bill could have far-reaching effects on the quality of life in America. The organizations and the people who have been involved the rallies understand that and are defending the American Dream. They deserve respect for standing up for their point-of-view.

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.