Louisiana is finalizing a plan to move thousands of people from areas threatened by the rising Gulf of Mexico, effectively declaring uninhabitable a coastal area larger than Delaware.

A draft of the plan, the most aggressive response to climate-linked flooding in the U.S., calls for prohibitions on building new homes in high-risk areas, buyouts of homeowners who live there now and hikes in taxes on those who won’t leave. Commercial development would still be allowed, but developers would need to put up bonds to pay for those buildings’ eventual demolition.

“Not everybody is going to live where they are now and continue their way of life,” said Mathew Sanders, the state official in charge of the program, which has the backing of Gov. John Bel Edwards. “And that is an emotional, and terrible, reality to face.”

Months of community meetings on the program wrapped up this week.

The draft plan, a portion of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, is part of a state initiative funded by the federal government to help Louisiana plan for the effects of coastal erosion. That erosion is happening faster in Louisiana than anywhere in the U.S., due to a mix of rising seas and sinking land caused in part by oil and gas extraction. State officials say they hope the program, called Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments, or LA SAFE, becomes a model for coastal areas around the country and the world threatened by climate change.

While the state hasn’t come up with a cost estimate, the buyouts and resettlement could add up to billions of dollars. The federal grant for the initial phase cost $40 million.

The idea hasn’t gone over well with all the people it’s supposed to help, some of whom want the government to do more to protect their communities instead of abandoning them.

“Are we doing every single damn thing we can? I don’t think we are,” Richie Blink, 31, said over a bowl of gumbo in Empire, a town 60 miles south of New Orleans on the bank of the Mississippi River. He paused, then said he didn’t mean to get worked up. “This stuff wears you out emotionally.”

Empire lost half its population after Hurricane Katrina, and now has fewer than 1,000 people. Blink, a community organizer for the National Wildlife Federation, said he understands the dilemma political leaders face, but wishes they would do more to keep the area habitable longer.

Empire’s harbor has a flood gate to protect the boats inside from extreme weather. “When I was a kid, it was a big deal to see the flood gates closed,” said Blink. This year, he said, those gates were closed for 100 days.

Sanders is working to complete the plan by early next year, at which point it will be up to federal, state and local officials to decide if they will implement it. Edwards, the Democratic governor, announced his support for the program in March. If he backs its recommendations, the state could create a buyout program or eliminate the homestead exemption for homes in high-risk areas, which would mean higher property taxes for many residents.

In a statement, the governor’s office said he is “following the progress being made by the LA SAFE team intently and looking for ways to build upon their success… .”

Under the proposal, commercial development would still be allowed, but developers would need to put up bonds to pay for those buildings’ eventual demolition.

Rob Moore, a flood policy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago, said that if the state goes ahead with the plan, “then every coastal state in the country should be asking themselves, ‘If Louisiana can do this, why aren’t we?'”

According to data provided by state officials, 94 percent of the land in Plaquemines Parish, which includes Empire, is considered “high risk” land.

Across the six coastal parishes covered by the LA SAFE program, more than 59,000 people live in high-risk areas.