Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and other state officials were joining local business leaders Wednesday in a rally in Lafayette's Cajundome to protest the federal moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which they claim is just adding to the economic train wreck caused by the massive oil spill in the Gulf.

Local promoters of the Rally for Economic Survival, organized by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, were expecting to attract 15,000 people to urge President Obama to lift the ban on new deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf.

"Gulf coast residents are already suffering from the devastating impacts of this accident to the tourism and seafood industries. This is not the time to add to their misery through the loss of jobs, energy and revenue provided by an industry so clearly vital to the Gulf Coast way of life," said Dave Welch, president of Stone Energy Corp. and a board member of the National Ocean Industries Association, said in supporting the rally.

The rally follows several research reports issued recently, which variously put the Gulf Coast states' job loss at anywhere from 17,000 to 100,000, depending on the length of the moratorium (see Daily GPI, July 21).

Welch, who also is chairman of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, maintained that new safety procedures, including third-party verification, increased inspections, better communication and well design, "would all contribute to enhanced safety and allow companies to continue to explore in a cautious timely manner while keeping their workers employed." He pointed out the ripple effect through the nation's economy of closing down Gulf activity.

"My message to President Obama is let us work! Rigs are on location and ready, helicopters are ready, boats are ready, suppliers are ready, caterers are ready, steel mills are ready and our people are ready....Let us work. End this moratorium."

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