Jane Van Ryan
Posted August 19, 2010
API President and CEO Jack Gerard announced this week that the oil and natural gas industry will sponsor a series of rallies in September, giving interested citizens forums where they can voice their concerns about the economy and jobs.
American citizens have plenty to worry about. With 15 million workers in unemployment lines, family budgets under pressure, and higher taxes looming on the horizon, Americans from all walks of life are feeling insecure and wondering about their children's futures.
Critics, however, are questioning the legitimacy of the rallies. They have renewed their accusations of "Astroturfing," implying that the rallies are artificial events, not true grassroots, and the voices of energy workers should be ignored. That's nonsense.
What's wrong with U.S. energy workers attending rallies about their jobs? The last time I checked there was nothing in their job descriptions that made them forfeit their rights as citizens at the door. As taxpayers and residents of this great nation, they have every right to speak out about policies that threaten their jobs and hinder the production of the energy that keeps America strong. Attempts to silence them or to question their involvement in the political process are fomented by critics with an agenda.
Furthermore, API sponsored similar rallies last fall. I attended several of them, and far from being an industry-only event, the majority of attendees had no relationship with the oil and natural gas industry. They were veterans, homemakers, seniors, farmers, union members, business leaders, and the unemployed, and they were united in their concern for the economy and the American way of life.
The Nashville, Tennessee, rally was a prime example. A few hours before it began, I asked the main organizer how many people were expected to attend. His answer was, "I don't know. Maybe 11." Imagine his surprise when 325 people showed up, cheered, and were grateful for the opportunity to stand up and be counted as concerned citizens. Overall, more than 12,000 people attended the rallies last year.
Ignore the naysayers and attend a rally. More information is available here.
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.