CALL TODAY: Stop Pay-to-Play for Water Pollution Permits
Governor Greitens has overwhelmingly stacked the Clean Water Commission with members representing corporate factory farms; literally putting people in power to regulate the industries they represent. Even worse is that he created the opportunity for pay-to-play for water pollution permits by appointing the top Missouri Republican Party fundraiser to the commission! Tell your state senator to oppose the newly appointed members to the Clean Water Commission because clean water is a right that should not be infringed upon by a group of people with major conflicts-of-interest. Read about the new appointees below and please call your state senator!
In 2016, state lawmakers added a last-minute amendment to a bill (House Bill 1713) that passed at the end of session removing the mandatory public majority for the Clean Water Commission (CWC). This change followed a ruling by the CWC earlier that year denying a Trenton Farms permit for a CAFO, in part, because it was proposed to be located in a 100-year floodplain. The amendment removed the mandatory public majority on the CWC and allowed all four members of the public to be replaced by representatives of agriculture and mining industries. Gov. Nixon vetoed the bill, which was narrowly overridden by the General Assembly and is now law. The four mandatory representatives from the public, of the seven-member commission, can now be legally replaced with people representing corporate interests. MCE has a pending legal challenge to the new law.
Governor Greitens New Appointees
The new Clean Water Commission, stacked with corporate interests by Governor Greitens, reversed its previous decision for the Trenton Farms permits with opposition from the local community. The Joplin Globe, which is a newspaper in southwest Missouri near many concentrated animal feeding operations, published an editorial critical of changes to the CWC. The new CWC members also voted to approve feckless “water quality standards” that would allow pollution to continue unchecked and do little to protect lakes from agriculture pollution. Missouri’s toxic green and scuzzy lakes are here to stay if the EPA agrees to implement the standards, which the previous administration already rejected.
Pay-to-Play for Water Pollution Permits & Conflicts of Interest
Some of the new appointees to the Clean Water Commission include:
- Patricia Thomas is the treasurer for the Missouri Republican Party and chief-of-staff to Sen. Brian Munzlinger. Senator Munzlinger added the amendment at the end of the 2016 session that allows for public representatives to the Clean Water Commission to be replaced with mining/agriculture special interests. People or corporations looking to get a favorable outcome from the Clean Water Commission can first make a donation to the Missouri Republican Party and Ms. Thomas is guaranteed to see it, as she is the top money handler for the party. The appointment of Ms. Thomas to the CWC clearly creates an opportunity for pay-to-play for water pollution permits that must not be allowed. Ms. Thomas is nominated to a “public” position.
- John “Ben” Hurst is the son of Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau affiliation is important because the organization is directly opposed to MCE’s longstanding efforts to get numeric nutrient criteria for agriculture pollution applied to Missouri’s lakes. Too much agriculture pollution can lead to the creation of dead zones in Missouri lakes, which cause fish kills and is harmful to human health. Mr. Hurst has already voted on water quality standards for lakes that is supported by the Farm Bureau and previously rejected by the EPA for being inadequate. Mr. Hurst is nominated to a “public” position.
- Stan Coday serves as the president of the Wright County Farm Bureau. Mr. Coday has already voted on water quality standards, which have been submitted to the EPA, that are in line with the goals of the Farm Bureau. Our concerns here are similar to that of Mr. Hurst’s nomination.
There are plenty of Missourians who are familiar with water quality standards who are not affiliated with the major factory farm/commodity/corporate interests in our state. Unfortunately, none of those people are currently on the Clean Water Commission. Call your senator and ask them to oppose the Governor’s appointments to the Clean Water Commission. Tell them you want people who truly represent the public interest!