A nationally recognized environmental activist will be the featured speaker for the community rally set for 7 p.m., Feb. 23 at the Minden Civic Center.
Lt. Gen. Russel Honore (Ret.), of the Green Army, will talk to citizens at the rally and encourage them to keep up their efforts to stop federal and state agencies from using the open tray burn method at Camp Minden to destroy what is said to be the biggest stockpile of munitions in U.S. history.
“I’m back here in Louisiana volunteering with the Green Army to advance the cause to fight pollution,” he said. “Our state, over time, has given so many exemptions and exceptions to the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, it threatens the health of our people.”
Rally coordinator Chris Broussard says the focus is on supporting those who are involved in stopping the open burn. Broussard is a member of the Concerned Citizens of the Camp Minden Open Burn.
“We really want to support the efforts of those actively engaged in solving this monumental challenge,” she said. “There are many people involved in moving forward with safe disposal now and all eyes are on Louisiana and how we solve this.”
The Green Army came into existence about a year and a half ago after the sinkhole in Assumption Parish destroyed homes and wiped Marksville off the map, Honore says.
“The people were not getting any help from the state or the federal government,” Honore said. “They asked if I would come and give them some help. The company was disrespecting them, not paying any attention to them.”
Through the Green Army, attention was brought to the issues, both human and environmental, to legislators in Baton Rouge.
Following a meeting in New Orleans not long after, he realized the way to change was to organize all the groups under one umbrella – the Green Army – to get communities and non-governmental organizations together.
“That’s the idea behind the Green Army,” he said. “We take people who are fighting pollution in their community to come together with one voice under the Green Army and create a legislative agenda.”
Retiring in 2008, after 37 years of service to the U.S. Army, Lt. Gen. Honore is most noted for his work with the
Joint Task Force in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Our Louisiana politicians have allowed our state – Sportsman’s Paradise – to becoming a dumping ground for toxic waste,” he said, noting the 2014 Louisiana Legislative scorecard, which shows how Louisiana legislators voted on environmental topics. “This EPA sanctioned open burn at Camp Minden would not be allowed in California or Massachusetts. Louisiana deserves no less.”
The rally will be comprised of a panel of experts that include scientists, elected officials and community leaders. According to a Louisiana Progress Action news release, State Rep. Gene Reynolds, Dr. Brian Salvatore, Dr. Robert Flournoy, Col. Sam Mims (Ret.) and Frances Kelley will “discuss how Camp Minden came to store the largest stockpile of M6 propellant hazardous waste in U.S. history.”