Coalition Report

By Heather Navarro, Executive Director
Coalition for the Environment

How Did We Get Here?

Woodstock, Tic Tacs, and the moon landing are just a few of the things that the year 1969 brought us. It was also the year Missouri Coalition for the Environment was started. I wasn’t there but I can imagine what it would have been like for our founders to start an environmental advocacy organization. There wasn’t an EPA or a Missouri Department of Natural Resources yet. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, as we know them now, were not in place. The government decided where to place landfills, what chemicals to spray on mosquitoes, and what rivers to dam largely without considering the long-term effects on the environment and human health. It was up to informed, aware, and brave individuals to step forward and challenge these decisions.

The environmental movement of the 70’s was successful in advancing some of the strongest environmental protection laws in the world. From the Clean Water Act to the Endangered Species Act we have legal tools to force government to consider the environment and hold polluters accountable. All we have to do is look to some of the dirtiest cities in China or India to see the difference air regulations make. Some of the most beautiful places in the world have been protected as public lands and one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the country is in Missouri because concerned citizens used the political process to stop a series of proposed dams on the Meramec River.

Fast forward several decades and we are reaping the benefits of past activism. However, many of the issues are still the same. Instead of acid rain, we are fighting carbon emissions. Park land, both locally and nationally, set aside to be protected in perpetuity, seems to be open to political whims and private interests. And we still haven’t learned how to live with our rivers, as we continue to build bigger levees and pave our floodplains with parking lots.

Fifty years ago, our founders did not have the tools we have today and yet they managed to find ways to stop environmental destruction and protect our air, water, and land. MCE is continuing the legacy of persistence and vigilance and we will be here another 50 years. Today the challenge is not only to protect our natural resources, but the democratic system that makes environmental protection and citizen engagement possible. It is not just our air, land, and water that are threatened, but our ability to fight for these resources and hold government and polluters accountable. Please visit moenvironment.org to learn how you can celebrate MCE’s legacy in 2019 and support the cause for the next 50 years.

For information visit www.moenviron.org.