Fifty-two years ago, Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) began working in St. Louis as the region’s first independent citizens’ group. MCE’s work was born through the St. Louis Conference on the Environment at the Missouri Botanical Garden, which connected a group of like-minded individuals who all aimed to protect the environment. MCE addresses a wide range of environmental policy issues. Fighting to keep the people of Missouri safe by advocating for clean water, clean air, clean energy and a healthy environment. The organization began before there was an EPA or a Department of Natural Resources. Today, MCE continues to stand up to industries that jeopardize public health. They also support environmentally responsible farmers, organize community-led food justice programs and advocate for more sound water quality standards.
However, MCE has a vast history of helping the St. Louis community and beyond through fighting for new policy and changes in old policy.
For example, in 1972, MCE helped draft and pass the “Schramm Package” of environmental bills in Missouri, resulting in the adoption of the Missouri Clean Water Act. Shortly after the organization began, they battled Union Electric in Callaway County, MO. In 1976, MCE launched a statewide campaign to prevent a Union Electric rate increase that would force customers to pay for construction work in progress (CWIP). Due to MCE’s efforts, an anti-CWIP law passed, preventing utility companies in Missouri from charging ratepayers.
Collaboration has always been a crucial part of MCE. In 1978, MCE was part of the broad coalition of groups who successfully stopped the Meramec Dam project, with 66% of the public agreeing that the Meramec should be kept free-flowing. The Coalition also became a part of the Missouri Wilderness Coalition, beginning a concerted effort to establish Bell Mountain, Rockpile Mountain, Devil’s Backbone and Piney Creek as wilderness areas. The Coalition also supported a Master Plan for Forest Park, which permits development only in three regions and prevents constructing a new Science Museum within the Park. Lastly, in 2008, MCE protected consumers from another proposed CWIP rate hike in a follow-up attempt in Callaway County, Missouri. A new program called Renew Missouri was created to promote clean, renewable energy. Together, Renew Missouri and MCE led a successful campaign educating voters on the impacts of the Clean Energy Initiative. MCE proved successful because Missouri voters approved the measure that requires investor-owned utilities to have at least 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2021.
MCE has grown by leaps and bounds, continuing to engage with agencies, governments, corporations and communities in critical decisions about the Missouri environment. MCE also constantly interacts with the community to help educate citizens about making informed decisions in legal matters relating to environmental protection, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Farm Bill. These and many other local ordinances protect our health standards and additional tools that govern our land, water, food, health and air. MCE will continue to advocate and enforce the laws that protect our land and natural resources while advocating for change in government protection of the environment and public health.