Perspective: Consider the Environment in the Race For Missouri Governor

By Kathleen Logan Smith

When environmentalists look at candidates for the next Missouri governor, they could face quite a dilemma. Neither major party candidate distinguishes himself in care of our land, air and water.

Republicans have certainly been no friend of the environment – they tried to defeat efforts to create a 42-acre state park on the Eleven Point River so the land could be sold at auction. And they are on record seeking to weaken the management plan for the spectacular Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the ecological treasure of spring-fed rivers nestled in our beloved Ozarks.

The Democratic Party candidate for Governor, Chris Koster, has sought to keep up with the Republicans. In 2015, Koster attacked the Clean Water Rule, which defines bodies of water that can be regulated by the Clean Water Act. The Rule would protect 2 million miles of streams and 20 million wetland acres nationally. These provide drinking water to almost a third of Americans.

Koster brags in his TV ads that he sued the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of Missouri to block the Clean Power Plan. The Plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emission from power plants, in an attempt to reduce emissions by 32% by 2030.

Family farmers are angry with Koster for supporting the 2014 “Right to Farm” amendment which enshrined “personhood” of corporations, making it easier for out-of-state corporations to grab control of Missouri farm land and for factory farms to disregard their neighbors. Koster announced his endorsement on the steps of the “Farm Bureau,” Missouri’s mouthpiece for Big Ag.

Luckily, we have a choice. The Missouri ballot will include the Green Party candidate for Governor, Don Fitz, PhD. Fitz has an unwavering commitment to ecological integrity. He hosted Green Time TV for 20 years, edited the magazine, Green Social Thought, and has organized many St. Louis campaigns, including efforts to block medical waste incinerators, opposed lead poisoning, and expose dangers of GMOs in food.

Fitz stands alone on major issues: supporting the Clean Water Act, supporting the Clean Power Plan, and opposing the “Right to Farm.” Additionally, he aims to protect rural Missouri with a commitment for local control for Missouri counties so that health-based siting requirements for factory farms are not eroded.

Fitz pledges that “As Governor, I will veto any bill passed by the legislature that restricts the right of counties to protect themselves from factory farms.”

The Green Party candidate goes beyond the call of most environmental organizations for solar and wind power by stressing energy efficiency. Fitz advocates putting energy conservation at the center of Missouri’s energy policy, which means setting targets for actual reduction of total energy used. California managed to increase efficiency – and still fuel Hollywood and Silicon Valley. We can too.

Fitz addresses another area typically neglected by environmentalists – jobs for displaced energy workers. According to Fitz, “Missouri must involve those who work in fossil fuel and nuclear energy in deciding how they can have jobs of equal pay in other fields as we reduce the amount of energy from dangerous sources.”

This year, in the governor’s race, consider what Eugene Debs, said “It’s better to vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don’t want and get it.”

Information about the candidate is available on at: www.facebook.com/Fitz4MOgov.