Honoré to be guest speaker at this week’s environmental summit in Sulphur

Published 4:41 am Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Micah 6:8 Mission is hosting the first event of its kind in Southwest Louisiana Wednesday and Thursday in the Sulphur West Cal Event Center.

The Southwest Louisiana: Better Together Health & Environmental Summit will give individuals who want to find out more about pollution and its impact on environment, health and climate change the opportunity to listen, learn, interact with experts and neighbors, and access the tools and resources to  advocate best outcomes for their family, community and world.

“These are critical issues at the intersection of public health and environmental sustainability within the region,” said Cynthia Robertson, founder and director of Micah 6:8 Mission. Five of its board members or family of board members are being treated for cancer. Robertson said the presentation will include maps that show “Cancer Alley” and a cluster of cancer cases in Calcasieu Parish where Robertson said reporting is spotty at times.

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 “The focus of the Summit is finding out how to mitigate these environmental risks and empower the local community to address pressing challenges.  Originally founded to alleviate food insecurity, Micah 6:8 Mission works on behalf of a community facing the threat of climate change, environmental degradation, unsafe drinking water, homelessness and lack of equitable disaster mitigation and relief.

Robertson said the public is invited to spend both days at the Summit or participate in any program in which they are interested.

“The food is going to be great, and it’s free,” she said. “If nothing else,  come and hear the Plenary Speaker, General Honore and enjoy lunch. If they are working on Wednesday, I’d suggest individuals and families come to enjoy dinner from an award-winning jambalaya maker at 5:30 p.m. and see the Screening of The Hollow Tree at 6:30 p.m., a feature-length film that follows three teenagers coming of age in their sinking homeplace of Louisiana.

Other speakers and panelists (including online presenters) are Ider Chief Shirell, a founding member of the First People’s Conservation Council of Louisiana and the first Native American Chairwoman of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs Native American Commission; Kimberly Terrell, research scientist and the director of community engagement at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic; Kaitlyn Joshua, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice community organizer; John Allaire, retired oil and gas industry environmental manager who owns 311 acres nest to property slated for Commonwealth LNG; Caitlion Hunter, a New Orleans based environmental attorney; Roishetta Sibley Ozane, clean energy organizer of Healthy Gulf and a She Leads Fellow for the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice; Scott Estus, wetlands and fisheries researcher supporting Health Gulf’s Science and Water Policy Team; Duncan Wheeler, PH.D. candidate in Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California and recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; Sarach Chambliss, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Statistics and Data at the University of Texas in Austin; Pargoal Arab, Climate Equity Associate at Clean Air Task Force; Jack Reno Sweeney, leadership and policy communications professional; and Michael Esealucka, US Petrochemical Coordinator, filmmaker and organizer with Break Free from Plastics; Matt Zoda, senior policy director for Healthy Gulf and vickie Boothe, environmental engineer and epidemiologist with 33 years public serve with the EPA; and Wilma Subra, a New Iberia-based chemist and MacArthur Fellow.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday and the day will kick off with “The Toxic Tour.” “It’s a bus ride that will take an hour, hour-and-a-half,” Robertson said. As the bus passes area industry, the guide will tell what that industry produces for the market, the air toxins that are released during production and incidents that have been reported to and recorded by the EPA.

Opening speaker on Wednesday, 10:45-11:30 a.m., is General Russel Honre, a decorated 37-year-old army veteran and global authority on leadership, disaster management and climate preparedness.  General Honoré knows that the future of our national security depends on protecting our environment, and he’s fighting for a brighter future for us all. A Louisiana native, he founded the GreenARMY, a coalition of environmental experts and advocates, to protect against pollution while fighting climate change and the natural disasters it causes. During his military career, General Honoré held numerous commands, including Vice Director for Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Commander of the Standing Joint Force Headquarters-Homeland Security.

At 12:15, 1 p.m. and 2:30, experts will do a “deep dive” into the local industry’s pollution record, pollution’s effects and health impacts of oil and gas.

On Thursday, the Summit opens at 8:30 a.m. Find out how “Dreamers Become Heroes at 8:45. “We LIve This” is at 9:15. “Success Stories” will be shared at 10:45. Free lunch is at 11:30. A special panel will share advocacy pointers at 12:15. Guests will dig in and plan for action and share plans beginning at 1:45, and the Summit closes at 3:45 p.m.