Oil has been king for 100 years in Louisiana, — and it seems that some people have finally had enough of the old ways. The much-talked-about Harper’s expose of Big Oil’s toxic legacy — “Dirty South,” by Ken Silverstein — brought to the surface what many locals have already been saying about the energy companies and their oversized influence in Baton Rogue. Earlier in 2013, we saw the unprecedented lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East against more than 100 oil and gas companies, asking millions to restore critical wetlands that have been destroyed by the industry. It’s a pretty safe bet to say that BP’s reckless oil spill in 2010, unleashing 5 million barrels of crude into the ever-sensitive Gulf, has sparked this newer, confrontational approach to the energy giants.
But even so, the words this week from retired Gen. Russel Honore, the man who did so much to restore order and faith in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, come as something of a shock:
After the various presentations, Lt. General Russel Honore (U.S. Army, retired) — the man who led the military into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — brought the room together with a frank talk titled “Fighting for Our Survival: Our Common Cause.”
I’d expected a variation of the speech Honore gave at the Rising Tide media conference in September. There he delivered a rousing indictment of Louisiana’s extraction and petrochemical industries for their failure to own the damage they cause and clean up the mess they make.
Despite the folksy, common-sense tenor of Honore’s remarks, his message was radical: Big Oil’s deep pockets control our state government and warp our democracy; it’s time to fight back against prolonged environmental injustice by polluters. Honore went so far as to endorse acts of civil disobedience to get our oil-smitten political leaders to take heed.
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