About 3,500 people streamed into Houston's Verizon Wireless Center today to remind Congress that energy is the backbone of the U.S. economy. Many wore bright yellow T-shirts emblazoned with "I'm an Energy Citizen," and hundreds signed petitions opposing the House-passed climate bill. Studies have shown that the bill will greatly increase fuel prices and eliminate millions of jobs.
The rally was organized by an alliance of 18 national groups and scores of local organizations who have voiced concern about the Waxman-Markey climate bill. Together they created a forum where Americans from all walks of life could express their views on the legislation's potential impact on their jobs and lives. Before the rally began, many of the attendees chanted, "Save our jobs" and waved posters bearing slogans such as, "I'll take a pass on $4 gas."
A highlight from the rally was a video featuring country music star Trace Adkins, in which he explained the importance of affordable energy to the American way of life--for farmers, truckers, small business owners, homemakers, and many others. He, too, proclaimed that he is an Energy Citizen.
Speakers at the event included Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, who nearly brought the house down when he called the Waxman-Markey bill "1,100 pages of junk." Like the other speakers, Harry said the climate issue needs to be addressed, but the House bill is not the best way to do it. He called on the Senate to get it right.
Outside the venue, two 18-wheelers were parked along the curb, one bearing a banner reading, "I'm in it for the long haul."
The Houston rally was the first of several rallies being planned by Energy Citizens in several states where Americans can come together to have a voice in the climate debate. I'll report on several of them in coming weeks. And tomorrow, I'll post some video from the Houston rally. Stay tuned....