The Green Army joins civic organizations, citizen groups and stakeholders in opposing House Bill 597 by Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, which, if enacted, will allow polluting companies in Louisiana to forever shield all information about their environmental hazards and toxic pollution from the light of day.

This bill can most accurately be described as the Louisiana Regulatory Compliance Escape Act because it allows polluting companies to escape compliance with regulations or disclosure to citizens about the risks to the public of their operations if the company simply declares their own internal “environmental audit,” which would remain secret under HB 597.

This bill is one more example of how the oil and chemical industry wants to monopolize and co-opt state government at the expense of the hardworking taxpayers of Louisiana.

Where is the sense in a law that allows a facility or company to gather all of its records about its environmental hazards, include it in a report it calls an environmental audit and thereby ensure that information will never see the light of day?

Where is the sense in a law that attempts to bypass and rewrite decades of state and federal laws that require a facility and company’s environmental information be available to the average concerned citizen?

Where is the sense in a law that turns back the clock to the days when the citizens of Louisiana had no protections from polluting companies’ facilities and the public was kept in the dark — all at the expense of their health and well-being?

If this bill is passed, all of the polluters up and down Cancer Alley and other toxic cesspools around our state will breathe a sigh of relief as they cloak their contamination in a cloud of murky secrecy. Indeed, if these companies have nothing to hide and are doing such a good job of protecting us from the hazards of their operations, why do they need to hide their information?

Our founding fathers recognized the importance of free speech and free press by making it the FIRST amendment to our great constitution. Hand in hand with that right, and what makes that right effective, is free access to information so that our society can know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Nothing is more sacred to our society, our government, our culture and our pursuit of health and happiness.

This bill is a monster that needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. Please call your legislator to urge him to vote against this bad bill.

retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel HonorÉ

The Green Army

Baton Rouge