Article by Robert Morris; photos by Zach Brien
A group of local environmental activists huddled against the cold wind Tuesday night to create an audiovisual protest against a proposed expansion of an oil pipeline from Canada visible to Freret Street drivers.
The group’s — 350 Louisiana, a local branch of the national 350.org — drew about 25 activists to the corner of Freret and Cadiz, where they held signs and chanted slogans protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline through Montana. Behind them, a projector displayed images such as a map of Louisiana’s coastline after 3 feet of sea-level rise and displayed messages such as, “President Obama, protect our sacred water,” against the large wall of the Publiq House.
Leading the chants was Jenna deBoisblanc, leader of the 350 Louisiana group, clad in a Captain Planet costume beneath her heavy coat and knit cap. “Why are we here tonight?” she asked the crowd in call-and-response style, to which the crowd answered, “I don’t want New Orleans to flood again.”
“Even though we don’t talk about climate change in Louisiana, it has a grave impact for our coast and for New Orleans in particular, because of rising seas and stronger storms,” deBoisblanc said to an observer.
deBoisblanc noted that Louisiana’s congressional representatives have been supportive of Keystone XL. The Washington Post described Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’sunsuccessful rally in support of the project as her “final indignity” before her defeat by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Tuesday’s temperatures in the 40s and even chillier winds meant there were few pedestrians on Freret Street for the protesters to engage, though they did draw a few honks from passing motorists. deBoisblanc said Tuesday’s protest was only one of 150 efforts in every state organized by 350.org, and that it was important for elected officials to know there is opposition.
“We wanted to make it known that our voices in our state that believe Keystone XL needs to be vetoed, for our coast, for our children and for our state,” deBoisblanc said.