Pork & Blame: Omstead Dam Boondoggle

MCE's Big Rivers Director critiques the Corps of Engineers over due and over budget Olmstead dam project on the Ohio River- and distributes the blame to the barge industry for its dependence on taxpayer subsidies and unwillingness to pay its way.

See the letter here.

Lawsuit Seeking Army Corps of Engineers Wetlands Records

Great Rivers Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit September 23, 2013 on behalf of MCE against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its failure to release documents relating to wetlands in the Mississippi River Basin. MCE seeks to improve government accountability and transparency- both goals are thwarted by the Corps' refusal to release critical documents. See the news release here.

Read the complaint here.


MCE Sues Army Corps of Engineers for Enbridge records

August 19, 2013


Read the complaint

Read more about what this pipeline means for Missouri

On behalf of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center filed suit in federal district court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 16, 2013, against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the Corps’ failure to release any information on the proposed Flanagan South pipeline which will carry diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” across the entire state of Missouri.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (“MCE”) is opposed to the pipeline because it threatens the safety and quality of Missouri’s waters. The Flanagan South is one segment of a pipeline project by the Canadian company Enbridge to carry dilbit from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast for refining and export. Dilbit is bitumen, an asphalt-like substance from the Alberta tar sands, which is diluted with chemicals to enable it to flow through a pipeline. It is not oil but is abrasive of pipelines and harder to clean up when it spills because it is thick, tarry, and sinks in water. A major spill from an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan in 2010 in the Kalamazoo River has still not been fully cleaned up. More recently there was a dilbit spill from an ExxonMobil pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, which contaminated a neighborhood.

MCE filed a request for documents from the Corps under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) in January. The Corps has released nothing. “It took them five months even to give us an excuse,” said Henry Robertson, Great Rivers’ attorney for MCE. “I have to wonder why the Corps is helping Enbridge keep this thing secret, making it impossible for people to know about a pipeline that may spill this stuff in their backyards.” Last week Enbridge started construction after three of the four Corps districts involved gave the go-ahead.

“If the Corps had nothing to hide about the project it would have released the documents back in January,” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of MCE. “Missourians will be the ones responding to an emergency; we will be the ones whose property is contaminated if there’s a rupture. We have a right to know about a risky project of this size.”

For more information see here.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri. Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love. Its web address is: www.moenviron.org.

Great Rivers is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in St. Louis that provides free and reduced-fee legal services to those working to protect the environment and public health. Its web address is: www.greatriverslaw.org.

MCE Defends Interests of 66% of Missouri Voters

August 19, 2013


            Today, attorneys for Great Rivers Environmental Law Center filed suit against four Missouri governmental entities, alleging they all played a role in thwarting the proper implementation of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard law, passed by voters in the 2008 election as Proposition C. The suit was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

            The renewable energy law requires the state’s investor-owned utilities, including Ameren Missouri, Kansas City Power & Light, and Empire District Electric Company, to ramp up their use of renewable energy to at least 15% of the power they sell to their Missouri customers by 2021. Plaintiffs in the suit contend that Missouri’s Secretary of State failed to publish key provisions of the regulation, leaving it unclear whether utilities are actually required to build new renewable energy generation, or whether they can comply instead by buying pieces of paper called “renewable energy credits” from solar and wind projects in faraway places like California or Canada.

            “It’s a critical issue because if utilities aren’t required to deliver renewable energy to Missouri, the law is largely meaningless. Missouri isn’t getting new jobs or the new renewable energy that should be built here,” said Vaughn Prost of Missouri Solar Applications, a solar installation company in Jefferson City and one of the Plaintiffs in the suit. “These policies are working in 28 other states, and there’s no reason it can’t work well in Missouri too.”


Read more: MCE Defends...

Polluter Seeking Override of Governor's Veto

This summer, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed HB 650, an omnibus bill which contained an attempt by special interests to do big favors to one of our biggest polluters, Doe Run. HB 650 would have capped punitive or exemplary damages to claims from Doe Run, operator of the nation’s largest lead smelter and lead mining/milling operations in Missouri. An nearly identical bill, House Bill 28, passed and omitted this toxic threat.

Now Doe Run is pressing lawmakers to override the Governor's veto.

An override of HB650 would weaken Missourians rights to defend their health and their property. To take action, call your lawmakers and urge them to reject Doe Run's request.

2013 General Assembly Review

In 2capitolsm013, more than 80 Senate Bills and 80 House Bills reached the governor’s desk, many of which were “truly agreed to and finally passed” the final week of session.

 When the dust cleared, a few special interests wheedled some erosive measures into our state environmental laws while conservationists successfully fended off the most aggressive attacks. 

 On the Omnibus

 Again this year, many environmental provisions were rolled into what is known as an “omnibus” bill. With ten minutes left in the session, lawmakers passed the Dept. of Natural Resources omnibus bill that contained language that originated in House Bill 650 and House Bill 28.The Governor will have both bills on his desk.

 Governor Nixon vetoed HB 650 (see here), however, Doe Run is now pressing lawmakers to override the veto. Contact your lawmakers and ask them to reject Doe Run's request for an override. Don't override Missourians' rights! See the news here.

HB 650 contains an attempt by special interests to do big favors for one of our biggest polluters, Doe Run. HB 650 would cap punitive or exemplary damages to claims from Doe Run, operator of the nation’s largest lead smelter and lead mining/ milling operations in Missouri. House bill 28 passed and omitted this toxic treat. However, its twin, HB 650, contains the Doe Run language and we want to maintain the veto on HB650.

Governor Jay Nixon vetoed HB 650 and signed HB28.

See our review of the Omnibus bills and other legislative issues here. Highlights/lowlights include:

  • provisions weakening factory farm oversight,
  • long-awaited action on pollution permit fees for the Dept. of Natural Resources,
  • changes to Missouri's environmental commissions,
  • solid waste districts,
  • and more.

Your action and support made it possible to hold back this year’s attacks. We promise to stay informed on what is going on during the next legislative session and notify you via email on ways you can take action. If you aren’t already on our email action list, sign up here. Stay tuned!

Besides the Omnibus issues, we were watching bills on urban agriculture and energy.

Read more: 2013 General...

Smarter Farming Can End the Gulf Dead Zone

Semi-Final Bottom Dissolved Oxygen Map2013

 (St. Louis) – A larger than average “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is our summer reminder that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution remain one of our nation’s greatest water quality challenges.

 See the map (also above): http://www.gulfhypoxia.net/Research/Shelfwide%20Cruises/2013/DOMaps/

The Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone is an area where oxygen levels in the water are too low to support marine life. This year it measures more than 5,800 square miles.

Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution fuel the excessive growth of algae which dies and decomposes, sucking the oxygen from the water. Ocean animals flee the Dead Zone – or die if they cannot escape it. Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution have many sources, including farm fertilizers, wastewater treatment plants and some industries. The Mississippi River delivers the pollution to the Gulf. The largest contributor to the Gulf Dead Zone pollution is agriculture.

Missouri has ranked among the top five states for contributing these Dead Zone pollutants to the Gulf.

 “Missouri farmers have no interest in destroying Gulf fisheries, at least not on purpose,” said Kathleen Logan Smith, Policy Director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “However, we still have farmers whose decisions are solely based on profit and yield with little respect for soil and water quality. Because good farm stewardship can deliver profitable crops, fertile soil into the future and clean water today, it’s time all our farmers commit to doing what works.”


Read more: Smarter Farming...

MCE Urges Rejection of Landfill Fire Plan

Thursday, July 11, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment sent our comments to the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources on Republic Services' Contingency Plan for the Bridgeton/West Lake landfill fire. The company, which owns the Bridgeton/Westlake landfill, had submitted the Plan to satisfy an agreement with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

In the letter, MCE urges the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources to reject Republic's Contingency Plan for addressing the landfill fire because the Plan fails to meet industry standards, risks public safety, and diverges enormously from advice provided by experienced landfill fire experts.

You can read our comments here.

You can find the Contingency Plan at this link.

More than 100 people attended the July 11 community meeting at Pattonville High School to review the Contingency Plan. The next community meeting on the West Lake Landfill will be July 25 at Pattonville High School at 7 p.m. 

Branching Out From Facebook

In related news, community members launched their website this week at: http://www.stlradwastelegacy.com/

101 0608-June9-2013WestLakeLandfillWev

Missouri Organizations Urge Protection of Missouri Floodplains from Dangerous Landfills

June 25, 20132013-06-25-NewsConfWeb

Missouri Organizations Urge Protection of Missouri Floodplains from Dangerous Landfills
Hearings on West Lake Radioactive Waste Landfill, Labadie Coal Ash Waste Landfill Set for Tuesday Evening

SAINT LOUIS – Today, The Sierra Club, Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Labadie Environmental Organization hosted a press conference urging protection of Missouri’s waterways from current and proposed waste landfills along the Mississippi, Meramec, and Missouri Rivers. The press conference preceded two hearings set for Tuesday evening relating to landfill issues in Missouri.

Many toxic landfills lie in the floodplains of the Mississippi, Missouri and Meramec Rivers in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The groups stood in front of the elevated Mississippi River, demanding urgent action to clean up current waste sites in the floodplains, and prevent the construction of dangerous and risky new landfills.

Read more: Missouri...

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