BAY TO BAY NEWS: Rehoboth Protesters Urge Biden to Address Climate Crisis
DELAWARE STATE NEWS/KATIE REDEFER
The climate march concluded outside President Biden’s beach home, which appeared to be vacant this weekend while the president recovers from COVID-19 in Washington D.C.
Posted Saturday, July 23, 2022 11:39 pm
By Katie Redefer
REHOBOTH BEACH — Dozens of demonstrators urged President Joe Biden to declare climate change a national emergency in a protest that marched down the Rehoboth Boardwalk to the president’s beach home on Saturday.
“We are here today to acknowledge that the Earth is on fire,” said Roy Jones from Camden, New Jersey. “It is up to us to make sure this land is preserved for the next generation.”
The protest, organized by climate activism group Food and Water Watch New Jersey, kicked off around noon with a rally at the Rehoboth Bandstand, where participants held hand-made posters and listened to impassioned guest speakers.
“We need to stop using fossil fuels today, and switch to clean, renewable energy sources,” said Echo Alford, a speaker from Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. “People do not deserve to live in conditions where they don’t have access to clean air or clean water. People deserve to breathe.”
Once the rally at the Bandstand concluded, protesters marched onto the Boardwalk, lifting their signs and chanting to onlooking beachgoers, “1, 2, 3, 4, climate change is class war!”
The crowd of approximately 40 people walked nearly two miles in the sweltering late-July sun to President Biden’s home on Fairview Road, with temperatures climbing above 90 degrees by mid-afternoon.
Among their demands for President Biden to declare climate change a national emergency, protesters called for the president to reinstate the federal ban on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) by rail car, a previously long-standing ban that was repealed by the Trump administration in 2020.
“LNG by rail is an extremely dangerous form of transport of highly volatile material,’ said Noa Gordon-Guterman, the protest’s main organizer. “LNG can cause explosions that have the same magnitude as a nuclear bomb. If 22 of them derailed, it could have the same magnitude as Hiroshima.”
Under the Trump-era rule, two LNG rail car terminals have been proposed to open in Gibbstown, New Jersey, and Chester, Pennslvania, which would allow for LNG transport across the Delaware River, alongside Delaware and South Jersey communities, going as far south as Rehoboth Beach.
Biden’s administration issued a proposed rule to suspend the Trump-era legislation in 2021, but the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has yet to implement the suspension. The original deadline on whether to implement the suspension rule was set for June 2022, but was recently delayed until December.
“They (the PHMS) have continuously delayed their decision deadline, and that indicates that they’re not making choices,” Ms. Gordon-Guterman said. “We’re asking them to prioritize, not just LNG by rail, but also the communities that LNG by rail would go through, such as Chester and Gibbstown.”
Once demonstrators made it to President Biden’s home, they assembled in the street outside, leading more chants and singing together “This Land is Your Land.” Protesters raised their fists to the sky, clenching a large blue banner that read “You can’t get away from it all” for a short time until they were asked to disperse by Delaware State Police.
Participants said although President Biden was not at home during the protest as originally intended, they hope he heard their demands.
“Like a lot of the speakers said today, Biden is the president, and with one flick of a pen he could make these changes,” said Katlyn Miller, who attended the protest from Milton. “He can use his power and authority to facilitate those positive changes and make the environment better, which is what all of us ultimately want.”