Reaction From Rally Against Offshore Drilling Strong

As coalition supporters lined up to sign petitions opposing drilling near the barrier islands, some in the crowd voiced their anger at Senator Trent Lott's earlier remarks about their efforts.

There was an equal amount of criticism aimed at Governor Haley Barbour.

"I feel the coast is getting something rammed down the throat by the rest of the state and in particular by Haley Barbour who used to be a lobbyist for the petroleum industry," says Alan Anderson of Pearl River County.

Still they remain cautiously optimistic that their efforts matter.

"Our governments let us down a lot before and I hope this time that we're going to make a difference," says Elizabeth Feder of Ocean Springs.

"I think they will listen to us after this," Richard Creel of Biloxi. "I'm not sure they've been listening up to now."

"Short sided politicians and their special interest cronies who are pushing near shore drilling just don't get it," said local Representative Diane Peranich in a taped message to the crowd.

What those approximately three thousand people listen to was a long and bipartisan line of local, state, and federal officials, all united behind the coalitions simple message, and a much bigger concern.

"How many of us feel if we don't do something very quickly that we could have companies drilling right outside our front door very soon," Senator Billy Hewes asked the crowd.

A concern shared by nearly everyone in attendance.

"We don't need to spoil what we have with a bunch of oil rigs," said Chris Moore of Biloxi.

An opinion many say leaders from Jackson to Washington would do well to seriously consider.

"I think they'd better listen," says Charles Mikhail of Pascagola. "As one of the speakers said, there are elections coming and I think politicians care about elections."