Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) is a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization that educates and activates Missourians to protect our natural resources. Formed in 1969 from the St. Louis Conference on the Environment at the Missouri Botanical Garden, MCE was the first environmental citizen-based action group in the state. MCE’s founders include Kay and Leo Drey, Lewis C. Green, and Barry Commoner. In 1970, Commoner appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in conjunction with the first Earth Day celebration.

Since our beginnings we have engaged agencies, governments, corporations and communities in critical decisions about Missouri's environment. We have routinely conducted citizen education so people can make informed decisions about the legal underpinnings of environmental protections, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmenal Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Farm Bill, local ordinances, health standards, and other tools that govern our land, water, food, health, and air.

To learn more about our current projects, please check out our work and attend our events and meetings. 

Historical Timeline:


1969 - Founded at the St. Louis Conference on the Environment held at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

1971 - Won a seminal ruling and a decree preserving the land between the Earth City levee and the Missouri River and prohibiting development below the high water mark without a federal permit.

1973 - The Coalition sponsored a national conference on composting and waste recycling.

1974 - The Coalition sponsored the Endangered Species Conference chaired by Marlon Perkins. Britain's Prince Philip addresses the conference.

1975 - Coalition members initiated a lawsuit, successful in the Missouri Supreme Court, to preserve St. Louis County's Queeny Park and two other parks from development as golf courses at taxpayer expense.

1976 - Led the statewide campaign to prevent utility companies from charging ratepayers for incomplete nuclear power plants.

1977 - An $11 million St. Louis County Parks Bond Issue is passed with the support of the Coalition, providing money for the Lower Meramec Recreational Area and for the purchase of additional park lands.

1978 - The Coalition, as part of the Missouri Wilderness Coalition, began a concerted effort to pass legislation establishing Bell Mountain, Rockpile Mountain, Devil's Background, and Piney Creek as wilderness areas, which is successfully enacted two years hence.

1980 - Intervened in Public Service Commission hearings on Union Electric’s plan for second nuclear reactor at Callaway County saving rate payers billions when the second reactor was cancelled.

1982 - The Coalition supported a Master Plan for Forest Park which permits development only in three areas -- the Steinberg Rink, Planetarium, and Jewel Box -- and opposes construction of a new Science Museum within the Park.

1984 - The Coalition helped draft the Missouri State Superfund Law and assists in its passage with the aid of its full-time lobbyist in Jefferson City.

1985 - With Coalition support, five county parks are protected from future adverse development under the "Natural Heritage Parks" initiative.

1986 - A Coalition petition drive resulted in St. Louis County voters' rejection of the construction of a golf course in Queeny Park

1987 - The Coalition's federal lawsuit blocked St. Louis County's effort to build a 70,000-seat stadium in the floodplain in Maryland Heights, paving the way for a stadium to be built downtown to augment Convention Center facilities.

1988 - MCE ran the successful Parks and Soils tax campaign in eastern Missouri.

1989 - The Coalition for the Environment and the Sierra Club appealed the Forest Service permit allowing lead mining in the Mark Twain National Forest and force a full environmental impact statement.

1990 - The Missouri Solid Waste Law, banning dangerous and/or easily recyclable materials from landfills and providing funds and other incentives for recycling, is drafted with the help of the Coalition and passed with its support.

1991 - The Coalition organized citizen action to protest the extension of a Page Avenue expressway and ten-lane bridge through Creve Coeur County Park.

1992 - Working in concert with Citizens to Protect Forest Park, the Coalition enabled St. Louis voters to reject Art Museum plans to expand the building and construct parking lots in Forest Park.

1993 - Advocated to add 7,000 surrounding acres and Greer Spring to the Eleven Point Wild and Scenic River system so that it would be protected from development.

1994 - The Coalition helped lead successful citizen opposition to a 308-mile ATV (all-terrain vehicle) trail system through the Mark Twain National Forest.

1995 - The Coalition challenged multiple state agency permits and variances issued to Fort Leonard Wood to enable the Army to move its nerve gas, germ warfare, and chemical weapons center and heavily polluting obscurant training program to the Ozarks. In the two proceedings which have reached the courts, the agency actions were set aside.

1996 - After 18 years, persuaded the St. Louis Radioactive Waste Task Force to recommend that the Dept. of Energy Agreement clean up all St. Louis City and County radioactive waste sites and remove wastes from populated areas and floodplains.

1999 - Coalition activists detailed concerns about the effect of fog oil and chemical weapons on humans, wildlife, and the sensitive ecosystems near the Big Piney River and Robidoux Creek at a public hearing before the Department of Natural Resources on the draft air & water permits required for operation of the Fort Leonard Wood Army Chemical Weapons Training Facility.

2000 - The Coalition worked with other environmental groups to establish the Ozarks Coalition after convincing Governor Carnahan to appoint a Chip Mill Advisory Committee. The Missouri Clean Water Commission is persuaded to impose a two-year moratorium on new chip mills.

2001 - The Coalition organized efforts in the Midwest to protect a key provision of the Clean Air Act that requires utilities to install modern emission control technology when old power plants are modified. The Coalition also leads a successful effort to save Church Mountain in the Ozarks from a utility company's ill-advised hydroelectric plant proposal, which would have decapitated the mountain.

2002 - The Coalition joined forces with Environmental Defense to preserve 18,000 acres of wetland along the Mississippi River in southern Missouri by convincing the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to turn down a certification for the massive levee proposal, the St. John's Bayou/New Madrid Floodway project. (In 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ heavily flawed proposal was tabled and a new environmental impact statement ordered.)

2003 - A Coalition investigation uncovered a plan to construct new ATV trails in the Mark Twain National Forest, leading to a public outcry and deferment of the plan.

2004 -Settled successful legal action that required the EPA to apply new recreational use protections for 25,000 miles of Missouri streams and improved protections for the Current, Jacks Fork, and Eleven Point rivers.

2006 - The Coalition won a legal settlement with the National Park Service requiring better compliance with federal land management practices for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri's largest national park, extending 134 miles along the Current and Jacks Fork rivers; the Coalition also organized the first ever Annual Ozark Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Expo held in Hermann, Missouri; and MCE launched the Renew Missouri project to advance renewable energy with the goal of reducing the state’s dependence on coal powered electricity.

 2007 - The Coalition supported a citizens' initiative that led to the passage of Proposition P to protect St. Louis City Parks;  Through a regulatory challenge to the draft permit, the Coalition also won improvements in the air pollution permit for the Doe Run smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, the largest lead smelter in the nation; and MCE helped Missouri pass legislation to support true net metering and simple interconnection.

2008 - MCE won a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which led to establishment of a more protective national public health standard for the amount of the toxic metal lead allowed in air.

MCE and its partners helped Missouri become one of only three states to enact Renewable Electricity Standards through a ballot initiative which resulted in a renewable electricity standard (RES) of 15% renewable energy by 2021, with a 2% minimum solar requirement.

2009 - Supported the Save the Confluence Coalition to protect 400 acres of Mississippi River floodplain at the Confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers from a casino complex that would have destroyed 377 acres wetlands and wildlife habitat.

2011 - Settled a lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency, the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District, and the Dept. Of Natural Resources that will reduce sewage discharges from overflows into most St. Louis area waters by 60-100% and reduce the plague of basement sewer backups.

2012 - Completed Our Future? A Vision for a Land, Water, and Economic Ethic in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, a report that peels away the symptoms and focuses upon root causes of the environmental issues in the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) Basin. The report explores “strong” sustainability in the UMR Basin and offers a 100-year vision for the future that challenges the flawed structure of present systems. It is written to provoke thought, dialogue and movement. Our Future? is meant to be a question for all residents of UMR Basin to help answer.

2013 - Helped secure water quality protections on 90,000 miles of rivers and streams and 2,000 lakes in Missouri through updated water quality standards. 

2016 - In collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders representing agriculture and conservation interests, passed the renewal of the State Parks, Soil, and Water Conservation Sales Tax.

2017 - Entered into a consent decree with the EPA to mandate numeric nutrient standards for all lakes and reservoirs in Missouri by December 2018.

2018 - Helped stop the sale of three state parks, Bryant, Ozark Mountain, and Jay Nixon state parks.


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