Coalition Report

by Kathleen Logan Smith
Director of Environmental Policy Coalition For The Environment

Many Hands Move Hearts

You, and the friends, allies and members of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment have carved 2013 into history. More than most years, 2013 arrived loaded with challenges: a subsurface landfill fire in a radioactive nuclear weapons waste site in north St. Louis County; water quality protections for 80% of Missouri’s waters hobbling through a painfully slow rule making process; a multinational company’s efforts to gain influence over the St. Louis water supply; a dysfunctional Congress that still hadn’t passed the 2012 Farm Bill; and special interests pressing to cut funding for Missouri River restoration while increasing its own subsidy.

People and organizations came together to tackle these issues and scored some wins. In November, after more than a decade of broken promises, the Missouri Clean Water Com-mission approved rules extending water quality protections to an additional 90,000 miles of waters and thousands of lakes. Also in November, Veolia, the controversial French multinational water privatizer announced its withdrawal from seeking a St. Louis contract. In addition, residents and businesses in North County have demanded increased accountability from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state agencies overseeing the West Lake landfill fire threatening the nuclear weapons wastes: In July more than 650 people attended an EPA meeting to get answers to essential questions at West Lake. This year, St. Louisans have logged hundreds of hours researching decades-old documents and uncovering the truth about the West Lake Landfill superfund site.
These achievements grew from the decisions and actions of thousands of people who made a phone call, wrote a letter, asked a question, clicked a link, read an article, shared a column, joined an organization, wrote a check, analyzed a document, attended a meeting, carried a sign, started a conversation, and took a stand for the health of the place we call home. We are grateful for you all.

Some victories are still elusive. Congress is hardly improved. As of this writing, it remains to be seen whether the Farm Bill will help hungry Americans, fix a failing food system, benefit land and water or instead, be a big, fat special interest giveaway. Will Congress even pass a Farm Bill? Will the Senate cave to the special interests seeking increased subsidies for the barge industry while gutting Missouri River restoration funds? Plenty of opportunities persist for citizen involvement.

New threats loom as well. Will Congress demand transparency and accountability in the secret agreement known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement? Will the media cover this issue that will impact food, medicine, energy, jobs, pollution and taxes for decades to come?

As we look to 2014, with its inevitable election year mudslinging in the political class and everyday challenges facing Missourians about paying bills, job security, and health, we take comfort in knowing what people can achieve when many pitch in to help. And we thank you for your part in making Missouri healthier. Learn more about Missouri’s environmental issues at www.moenviron.org. You are welcome to join us.