Coalition Report

By Haley Larson
Missouri Coalition for the Environment Intern

Legislative Update: Help Stop Polluter Protection Bills & More

The 2016 legislative session ends in May. We are supporting local agriculture bills while opposing polluter protection bills and more. Senate Bill 894 will shield the owner of a nuisance from legal action if the owner is complying with a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), MO Department of Natural Resources (DNR), or United States Army Corps of Engineers. The bill is meant to protect concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and other dirty industries from legal action by their neighbors who were often there first. MCE will oppose this bill or any variation of it moving forward.

MCE also opposes House Bill 1414, or what we’ve dubbed the “CAFO Shield Law,” which will effectively eliminate the Sunshine Law for environmental and animal welfare issues on factory farms. Transparency at factory farms, which feed millions of people, is necessary for accountability for the general good.

There is some positive progress being made by lawmakers. Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal introduced legislation, SB 600, which would establish a buy-out program for homeowners that live near the smoldering and radioactive West Lake Landfill in St. Louis County. The bill also requires property owners to disclose to a buyer or lessee if the property is contaminated with radioactive material. This bill passed out of committee with near-unanimous support. MCE supports this bill and we will continue to support any efforts made to help people living around the landfill.

Unfortunately, the legislature is also mounting attacks against Missouri’s state parks system. House Bill 2187, which passed out of the House and was read before the Senate, will force the Dept. of Natural Resources to sell land already purchased by the state in Oregon County meant for a new state park. Missouri’s state parks bring in millions of visitors a year translating into millions of dollars in revenue for the state and local communities. Forcing the DNR to sell this land would be a loss for the state, from both an economic and recreation standpoint. Find out what else the Missouri Coalition for the Environment is following in Jefferson City at www.moenvironment.org. Most importantly, contact your legislators. Write a letter. Send an email or tweet. Make a call. Your opinion matters!

Haley Larson is a Missouri Coalition for the Environment intern focused on the state legislature.