Thank you to everyone who took action this year!
The legislative session ended on May 12, 2017. MCE is reviewing the list of bills that passed and amendments so we can provide a comprehensive update.
West Lake Families Still Need a Buyout!
There are still two ways to support a buyout for families near the West Lake Landfill.
- AG Hawley can fight to use money collected from Missouri’s lawsuit against Republic Services to create a buyout for West Lake families. We estimate $55 million is owed by Republic Services to the state for years of violations related to the smoldering fire. Call AG Hawley and ask him to help secure a buyout for West Lake families: 573-751-3321
- Administrator Pruitt can use the power of Superfund to create a buyout for these families today! Sen. Chappelle-Nadal introduced SB 22 because a lack of action at the federal level. Call and ask
Administrator Pruitt to initiate a buyout for West Lake families: 202-564-4700
MCE Response to Senate Bill 22
MCE has a long history working on issues at the West Lake Landfill. Informed by the advocacy and research of Kay Drey, MCE challenged the EPA’s decision to cap-and-leave the radioactive wastes at the West Lake Landfill in 2008. The decision is still under consideration. In the meantime, people continue to live and work around the site. Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal introduced Senate Bill 22 this year to provide state funding for a buyout after years of inaction by the federal government. MCE has also built a legacy around protecting and restoring land for the public good. Our work dates back to one of our founding members, Leo Drey, who was instrumental in the preservation of the Ozarks.
Near the end of the legislative session, Rep. Ross attached an amendment to SB 22 that would have required the sale of over 9,000 acres of park land, unnecessarily pitting two of MCE’s long-term commitments against each other. Wanting to see the buyout bill pass and honor our commitment to public lands, MCE supported the passage of SB 22 and advocated for the defeat of Rep. Ross’ amendment. Ultimately, SB 22 was amended with the language to sell off park land and the bill did not pass the House. It is a failure of government that families still live near the landfill. This legislative session, Jefferson City politics killed the closest opportunity for a buyout. Many of us fought hard this session to advance this legislation and we will continue to fight to ensure a buyout for people living closest to the smoldering and radioactive West Lake Landfill.
MCE’s support of the buyout bill this session included:
- Testified at the Senate committee hearing (Jan. 11th) and House committee hearing (April 26th) in favor of the buyout.
- Testified at a Senate budget committee hearing (Jan. 25th) and House budget committee hearing (Jan. 24th) in support of appropriations for SB 22.
- Coordinated a lobby day (March 7th) to support SB 22 passage out of the Senate. The West Lake lobby day group also met with Gov. Greitens’ staff to encourage him to support SB 22.
- Attended the House committee executive session (May 3rd), representing people around the landfill who support the bill and could not be in attendance.
- Worked the final week of the legislative session to secure a buyout without the illegal Rep. Ross amendment.
During the House Budget committee’s executive session, several amendments were filed, including one by Rep. Ross to sell land acquired by the Dept. of Natural Resources from Fiscal Year 2016-2018. This amendment would have sold more land than his previous attempts. Rep. Ross has a history of attacking the state park system. His amendment this year would have sold 9,704 acres of public land at the following sites:
- 121.81 acres at Bennett Spring State Park
- 2,691 acres at Bryant Creek State Park (new park)
- 4,167 acres at Eleven Point State Park (new park)
- 147.76 acres at Johnson's’ Shut Ins State Park
- 40 acres at Onondaga Cave State Park
- 1,011 acres at Ozark Mountain State Park (new park)
- 104.88 acres at Pershing State Park
- 527 acres at Roaring River State Park
- 893.98 acres at Taum Sauk State Park
Rep. Ross’ amendment failed twice to pass the House Budget committee. The first vote tied 15-15 and the second vote tied 16-16. It appears Rep. Ross, in coordination with his allies on the committee, were prepared to kill Senate Bill 22 unless his amendment was attached to the buyout bill. After the committee stood at ease for negotiations, a third vote on Rep. Ross’ amendment passed and SB 22 passed out of committee.
MCE opposed Rep. Ross’ amendment because it was illegal and created a false hope for people living near the landfill. The money he promised from the sale of the state parks would have never come to St. Louis to help families near the landfill. Even more, it is a dangerous precedent to auction off public land and bad policy to support a buyout with an illegal sale of public assets.
The families around West Lake Landfill still need a buyout and we will continue to work with the community surrounding the smoldering and radioactive West Lake Landfill to pursue a buyout and to put the Corps of Engineers FUSRAP in charge of the radioactive cleanup at the site.
MCE is part of the Missouri Conservation and Environmental Alliance (MCEA) with the Missouri Parks Association and Audubon Missouri.
Below are some pictures from our Environmental Lobby Day in 2016.