Coalition Report

By Heather B. Navarro, Executive Director Coalition For The Environment

Counting Up 2016

It’s the new year and the counting begins again. As the calendar starts ticking away the days of 2016 we start counting other markers – inches of precipitation, tons of CO2 emitted, pounds of trash generated, and ER visits for air-borne illnesses. In January, these numbers have nowhere to go but up. But all news is not bad news.

Last fall Missouri Coalition for the Environment teamed up with St. Louis Earth Day, the South Grand Business District and the William A. Kerr Foundation to present the film Inhabit, a Permaculture Perspective. I was moved by the shift in thinking from the limited view of how we can reduce our footprint on the earth to how we can leverage our unique role in the food chain to protect and heal the planet. We absolutely cannot ignore the negative impacts our actions have on other species and the environment. However, we also cannot neglect our potential for beauty, creativity, peace, justice, and compassion. We cannot allow these gifts to wither when the world needs them so desperately.

There are other numbers we can celebrate as they rise – the number of solar systems installed, acres of wetlands preserved, signatures on petitions to remove radioactive waste from the floodplain, miles of rivers covered by water quality standards, and pounds of local food served in schools. There are efforts underway to promote all of these initiatives here in St. Louis.

For example, Missouri is poised to be a leader in renewable energy with over 100 solar companies at work throughout the state and over 2,500 people employed in solar energy work. These advancements benefit of our air, climate, and health. It will take new policies that shift our priorities from dirty, unhealthy fossil fuels, to clean, renewable sources.

Another effort to follow is the boom of local, sustainable food. A new Food Policy Coalition has formed to expand the local food system’s capacity. Increased local food efforts translate into improved water quality, restored soil, and healthier kids – numbers we all want to see go up!

And finally, we closed out 2015 with 4 federal legislators, representing both parties, sponsoring legislation to transfer the radioactive West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton from the Environmental Protection Agency to a special program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Along with Just Moms STL and our other allies we will be adding up the number of supporters. These numbers will get us closer to protecting our community and our water from radioactive contamination.

You can track all of these issues and more on our website at www.moenvironment.org.