It's hard to imagine a more powerful figure to want on your side than retired Army Lt. General Russel Honoré. The former head of the Hurricane Katrina Joint Task Force Hurricane Katrina who commanded the military response to the devastating 2005 hurricane is now a major environmental activist in Louisiana - and those who love clean air and water are happy to have him.
"He came to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and was called that 'John Wayne dude' for his take charge style and his reminding his solders that they were he to help fellow Americans recovery from a massive disaster called Hurricane Katrina in metro New Orleans," says Sierra Club Environmental Justice organizer Darryl Malek-Wiley, who works with General Honoré as part of the GreenARMY.
General Honoré now heads the GreenARMY, "an alliance of civic, community, and environmental groups and concerned citizens from around the state ready to effect meaningful social, political, and environmental change in Louisiana." Their latest battle? Fracking in St. Tammany Parish.
Anti-fracking crowds from the GreenARMY (including Sierra Club activists) have packed recent public hearings on a proposed permit to frack in a wetlands area of St. Tammany Parish - with the next major public hearing coming on June 2.
Residents are worried about the proposed fracking poisoning the water in the Southern Hills aquifer - and that the local politicians have been bought off by the oil and gas industry. Check out General Honoré's take on it.
Malek-Wiley and Delta Sierra Club staffer Andy Zellinger are working closely with Honoré and the GreenARMY on this issue and helping to turn out crowds at the hearings.
"Anyone who has a chance to drink (local St. Tammany Parish's) Abita Beer knows of the current quality of the water in the Southern Hills Aquifer - it's phenomenal," said Malek-Wiley with a laugh. "But this is a serious water quality issue. Fracking, be it in Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, or Louisiana is a bad news. It means pollution, health problems, truck traffic, and more. It is the wrong energy choice."
Malek-Wiley's also thrilled to be working with the environmental powerhouse that is General Honore, too.
"As a long time Environmental & Environmental Justice activist it has been very interesting working with General Honoré," he says. "After his retirement General Honoré found that there are environmental damages being caused in America and that our democracy and way of life that he fought for is being taken over by huge oil and gas companies. What's more - these industries give large amounts of money to politicians and run green-washing TV campaigns all the time."
And that's part of General Honoré's speech in the video above - who is St. Tammany has been bought off to support the proposed fracking project.
If you're in the St. Tammany area, you can help by joining the Louisiana GreenARMY and the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club and attending the June 2 public hearing.
And if you're not, Malek-Wiley encourages everyone to write your elected officials about investing more in clean energy like wind and solar instead of more drilling and fracking.
-- Heather Moyer, Sierra Club Senior Content Producer