If you attended the Energy Citizen rally downtown today there should be little question in your mind about what organizers want you to do next: tell the U.S. Senate to kill the climate-change bill.
“Shame on you Congress, shame on you House of Representatives,” said National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford to a roaring crowd of mainly energy industry employees. “We’re in a recession. We don’t cut jobs, we create jobs.”
Inside the rally were wall-sized petitions to Congress that attendees could sign.
None of the event materials or speakers mentioned party affiliation or whether or not humans are responsible for climate change. Nor were the details of the bill discussed, or alternative ways to address the issues. A chant from the 3,500 who crowded the Verizon Wireless Theater summed up the mood best: “Save our jobs. Save our jobs.”
John Torgersen, an employee of ConocoPhillips, said he attended the rally because the more he learned about the bill the more he felt it was aimed at him personally. The bill seems to be aimed particularly at both refining and transportation fuels, he said.
“It was feeling like someone drew a little circle around me with the bill and said ‘let’s go after this guy,'” Torgersen said.
The only counterpoint to the message of the rally could be found outside by a handful of protesters with Public Citizen handing out copies of a Union of Concerned Scientists study that says the proposed law will create jobs. A spokesman for Public Citizen, Andy Wilson, said his group was turned away at the door. Organizers confirmed they were only letting in attendees from companies or organizations supporting their cause because of space concerns in the hall.
Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis put out a statement shortly after the event saying “when polled most Americans want a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” including more than 70 percent of African Americans “even if it cost them $10 per month.” (actual costs for the bill have ranged from an Energy Information Administration estimate of $83 per household per year to a National Association of Manufacturers’ figure of $1,248 per year.)
“As outlined in the memo that API sent to member companies*, the strategy of today’s rally organizers is clear: distort the facts and drive up disapproval for the bill. API noted that when people are told that gasoline will go to $4 under the bill, disapproval went up 23%, but no honest analysis of the bill suggests that gasoline will rise over $1 per gallon because of the bill.”
* (this link it to Greenpeace’s letter to API which has their original e-mail message attached).