Drilling Opponents Launch Media Blitz

It's a familiar song with different lyrics. On a new C.D., a South Mississippi musician sang "They sold paradise and put up an oil rig."

From such catchy tunes that take a jab at politicians, to radio spots that make a strong message, the "12 Miles South Coalition" is launching a campaign to keep oil and gas drilling away from the barrier islands.

One radio ad said "Drilling will destroy the coast tourism economy, along with our islands".

Ted Riemann is in charge of advertising for the coalition. He said "So now, we've started in the air war, is what we call it. That's the media, both TV and cable and radio".

The ads urge lawmakers and citizens to take a stand, by joining a Sunday afternoon rally at the Coast Coliseum.

Rebecca Korpita is a concerned citizen who often attends the coalition meetings. She said "I hope more citizens are going to come to the rally, because there's so much misinformation about what the benefits of how this is going to benefit the state. They need to hear all sides".

Coalition Chairman Robert Barq said "We want people to come whether you're for or against it. People who are for it, they might say I didn't realize this. People who are against it will be more against it".

The coalition is also getting some national exposure. This week, a film crew from Los Angeles will come to South Mississippi to follow the group and cover the rally, to show a grass-roots effort to fight offshore drilling near the islands.

Barq said "Don't disrupt the islands. Don't disrupt tourism. Sometimes this is what it takes to get the message out. That's what this rally is about".

The rally will be held Sunday, August 21st. It begins at 3 P-M at the Coast Coliseum. The coalition has invited the Governor, members of Congress, as well as local and state lawmakers to attend.

By: Trang Pham-Bui