PRESS RELEASE: Louisiana Coalition Hits the Beach to Take Stand Against Gas Export Terminals
Aerial flyover, mobile billboards, standout, and canvassers greet holiday beachgoers
(Rehoboth Beach, DE)
Parents, students, community leaders, and a former oil industry worker hit the beach this holiday weekend to urge beachgoers to take a stand against toxic gas terminals on the coast of Louisiana.
Aerial flyovers, mobile billboards, canvassers, and standouts from the campaign to Defend Louisiana greeted Rehoboth families and visitors from the boardwalk to the beach to the farmer’s market.
The group had a simple request: Tell federal officials to stop permitting gas export terminals in the Gulf Coast.
“DC politicians would never allow gas terminals in Rehoboth. So why should they allow them on the Gulf Coast?” said James Hiatt, a Louisiana native and hurricane survivor who traveled 1,400 miles to Rehoboth to seek the community’s support.
Hiatt is one of many hurricane survivors opposing the oil and gas industry’s efforts to bulldoze the Gulf Coast and build nearly a dozen gas terminals in its place. Destroying the Coast makes his family, home, and community even more vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding.
Louisiana resident Roishetta Ozane survived multiple hurricanes, as well. Her family was displaced and still is living in temporary FEMA housing more than a year later. This weekend, she asked Rehoboth Beach visitors and residents to join with the newcomers from Louisiana.
“We’re here to ask for your help saving our home and our families,” said Louisiana hurricane survivor Roishetta Ozane. “So, please, while we’re here: Talk to us, share local food with us, and learn about where we come from and the challenges we’re facing,” she continued. “The corporations destroying the Gulf Coast today will destroy this shoreline tomorrow as their emissions accumulate and sea levels rise. We need you to join us in calling on President Biden and FERC to stop permitting these gas export terminals.”
The group’s actions come on the heels of print and digital advertisements. The high-impact advertising has run in the Wilmington News Journal, the Cape Gazette and Beach Paper, on Facebook and Instagram, on mobile billboards, and on aerial flyovers.
The flyovers greeted the jam-packed beach and boardwalk on Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3, during a weekend where Rehoboth saw upward of 100,000 visitors.
The campaign’s ads have a purpose: to push members of the public to action. With a URL and QR code, members of the public viewing the ad can quickly add their names via the group’s website and send a letter to President Biden and members of FERC calling on those decision-makers to stop permitting gas export terminals on the Gulf Coast.
For the campaigners—largely Gulf Coast locals, former oil and gas industry workers, and hurricane survivors—this message to federal officials is extremely personal. Every day, they are speaking out against the threat posed by the continued oil and gas industry buildout in Louisiana, which would destroy coastal wetlands, barrier islands, and other natural features that are essential to protecting the area’s residents from hurricanes and flooding.
“I worked for years in the oil and gas industry,” explained Hiatt. “Building these gas export terminals means destroying beaches, lakes, fishing spots —and our way of life. I can’t even bring my kids to the places I used to visit with my family when I was a kid. They’re either closed, contaminated, or they just don’t exist anymore.”
Currently, the industry has plans to add over a half dozen new gas export terminals in the southwestern corner of Louisiana, a region already overburdened by a high density of existing facilities and pipelines. The terminals refrigerate and ship methane gas, which is 25 times more powerful than CO2 in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Throughout the liquefaction and loading processes, the facilities burn and leak this super-concentrated greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
After a week of visibility efforts following last week’s initial press conference and kickoff, the campaign took to the beach and boardwalk this peak holiday weekend. Reinforcing their efforts is a robust escalation of their ad campaign, which exposes the federal government and fossil fuel industry’s blatant double-standard of protecting the East Coast while bulldozing the Gulf Coast.
The campaign’s provocative ads ask Rehoboth beachgoers: “Would D.C. politicians allow this here?” next to a jarring image of a beach being bulldozed while crude oil leaks from a damaged pipeline. The ad compels members of the public to stop and take notice. The call to action, “You’d never let them in Rehoboth. Help us stop them in Louisiana” directs viewers to join the campaigners on their mission to stop the federal government’s permitting of additional gas export terminals.
Reactions from Rehoboth Beach locals and visitors have been overwhelmingly positive, with campaign officials reporting that most people they’ve met had no idea what has been going on along the Gulf Coast.
“Nearly everyone I have spoken to has been shocked,” noted Vanessa Nichols, field director for the Defend Louisiana campaign. “They haven’t known what a gas export terminal is, let alone knowing that each one of these terminals can pave over 800 acres of land, bottle up millions of cubic feet of fuel, and ship it out of the country. When people learn these facilities destroy local economies, harm everyday Americans, and contribute to inflation by driving up fuel prices, they are ready to take action.”