You probably learned about the three branches of government and the idea of checks and balances in school. You probably also learned that ours is a “government for the people, by the people.” These basic principles are at the root of MCE’s work. We believe that if people are actively engaged in our governmental processes we can effectively protect our most precious natural resources and ensure a healthy future for all Missourians and the ecosystems of which we are a part.
Laws and regulations are passed at both the state and the federal level. The three branches of government – legislative, executive, and judicial, exist at both levels. Change can only happen after a law goes through the entire system and often requires legal enforcement. In addition to traversing the system of checks and balances, laws and regulations are subject to all sorts of forces, and so are their sponsors. The role of money in the political system has become frightening. Lawmakers split their time between public service and private interests and the Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech and corporations are people.
MCE works hard to make sure that environmental and health concerns are considered at every level of government and we work against the tidal wave of special interests fighting to put private profit over the public good. Below we illustrate how MCE engages individual citizens and citizen groups with the government to improve public and environmental health.
Federal: U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate
State: Missouri General Assembly
Federal: President, EPA, Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
State: Governor’s Office, Dept. of Natural Resources, Dept. of Conservation, Public Service Commission and other agencies
Federal: District Courts (Eastern and Western in MO), 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court
State: Circuit Courts, State Courts of Appeals, and State Supreme Court
Some state laws and regulations get their start at the federal level. For example, the importance of protecting water quality started through the Clean Water Act, which was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Nixon. Missouri, however, has been delegated the authority to regulate water quality within its boundaries. Because of this delegation, the state sets water quality standards, writes discharge permits, and enforces water quality violations. See below for how we work to influence policies at each level of government.
The federal legislation that spurs much of our work comes from the following pieces of legislation:
National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA)
Clean Water Act (CWA)
Clean Air Act (CAA)
Endangered Species Act (ESA)
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
The Farm Bill