Coalition Report

By Laura Lock,
Director of Development
Coalition for the Environment


MCE Sues EPA to Protect Missouri Lakes & Human Health

On December 3, 2019, Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not protecting Missouri lakes for recreation and drinking water use, and therefore not protecting human health. The EPA approved Governor Parson’s weak “clean water” rule for nutrient pollution following a sharp rebuke of a similar plan just a few years prior. 

MCE argues that Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources, without justification, removed pollution impacts on human health in violation of the Clean Water Act. 

Missouri Governor Mike Parson and state lawmakers have a history of supporting industrial agricultural interests over the protection of Missouri’s water resources and public health. We refuse to be a spectator as clean water protections are gutted because we do not want Missouri to end up in a situation like Des Moines (Iowa) or Toledo (Ohio), where literally thousands of lives have been disrupted and millions of dollars spent trying to deliver clean drinking water to people due to excessive nutrient pollution. 

The need for measurable nutrient pollution standards is more than a decade in the making. What’s new is that Governor Parson and President Trump have decided to support standards that are not protective of human health. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are essential for healthy plants. But, like anything else in life, it is possible to have way too much of a good thing—especially in sensitive environments like our lakes. Large quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus can enter our waterways from animal waste, fertilizer runoff, and sewage treatment plant discharges. 

Over the years, MCE has been asked what brings us to litigation over an issue? In this case:

MCE is suing because these standards are ineffective at reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and do not protect human health. 

In 2011, EPA denied this set of standards because they were not based on sound scientific rationale and they failed to demonstrate that they would actually be protective of aquatic life and recreation.

Under a new administration, EPA reversed its 2011 decision and approved substantially the same set of standards in 2018. 

DNR’s lake nutrient criteria set a bad precedent for streams and rivers, neither of which currently have standards. 

We created a timeline for Missourians to understand the commitment MCE has made to this issue, over a long period of time. You can access the timeline, and more information about nutrient pollution, by going to https://moenvironment.org/nutrientpollution/

Become a member by donating to MCE and we will keep you informed as to our progress on this and many other vital issues impacting Missouri and our communities. 

MCE’s website is www.moenvironment.org