As beach goers descend on Rehoboth Beach this holiday weekend, they’ll be joined by some visitors from Louisiana on a mission. Members of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade hope to gain support for their fight against the construction of natural gas shipping terminals near their homes along the Gulf Coast during a summer-long campaign in Rehoboth.
“Their idea is to build 12, maybe more enormous facilities,” said Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, of the proposed construction project.
Even though the liquified natural gas terminals planned for the Gulf Coast are hundreds of miles away from Delaware, Rolfes’ group hopes to get people in Rehoboth to imagine what such an industrial facility would look like here along Delaware’s beaches.
“So just imagine here in Rehoboth Beach, would you be okay, would you accept it if the fossil fuel industry was proposing to build 12 stadium-size export gas facilities on this beautiful beach?” Rolfes asked during a news conference along the boardwalk. “We don’t think you’d be okay with it. And in Louisiana, we’re not okay with it either.”
She said the plans take advantage of one of the lowest income parts of Louisiana, “a place where there are historic Black communities that fought for and won emancipation, where there are rich fishing communities, families that depend on oysters for survival.”
The group hopes the juxtaposition of pictures of LNG terminals compared to the clear view of the ocean afforded to Rehoboth visitors is enough to gain empathetic support for their cause. They’ve strategically targeted Rehoboth in part because of its most famous frequent visitor, President Joe Biden, who has spent many weekends at his beachside home nearby.
“We’re asking the people of Rehoboth Beach and on the East Coast to join with us and prevent that [terminal] from happening. They don’t think they’re going to get a fight in Louisiana, but they have a big fight on their hands,” said Rolfes.
Plans for more fossil fuel industry infrastructure along the Louisiana coast comes as the region is still recovering from the impacts of devastating storms and preparing for stronger storms in years to come as a result of climate change.
Louisiana resident Roishetta Ozane is still living in a FEMA trailer after Hurricane Laura hit her home in August 2020, followed by another hit a few months later when Hurricane Zeta came through that October.
“You came here to Rehoboth to enjoy your beaches because they are beautiful. You can see the beautiful sunset without a flare in the background. You don’t smell chemicals. You don’t see industry everywhere. That’s all we want for our home,” she said.
“Our Gulf Coast is overfilled with petrochemical facilities. We already have operating LNG facilities, yet there are stadium-sized facilities that are threatening to come to our area.”
The group’s campaign hopes to engage with Rehoboth visitors all summer long. “We are going to be here through Labor Day to defend Louisiana,” Rolfes said. “It’s a life-or-death struggle really for the soul of our state.”
In addition to engaging with beachgoers in person, the awareness effort will also include an ad campaign including plane banners carrying the message along the shoreline.
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