The answer to this question has been a tough one to get my arms around.
As mentioned in my previous posting, Senate Bill 391 is an attempt to curtail existing county health ordinances, which after the dumbing down of state regulations over the past five years, are the only remaining protections available to Missouri residents against Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Removing local control eliminates the last line of defense against a CAFO approval process that is overseen by the Missouri Clean Water Commission, which has been stacked with agricultural interests.
When I left you last there were stirrings at the grass roots level about counties who had not previously passed protective health ordinances attempting to do so before August 28, the day SB 391 was scheduled to go into effect.
These efforts were met with threats of lawsuits from the Farm Bureau, the Cattlemen’s and Pork Associations, and other deep pocketed corporate agriculture interests. In other words, don’t do this or we’ll sue at great expense to your voters, and our pockets are substantially deeper than yours.
The threats have worked to some extent. Christian County has apparently abandoned their effort and Taney County passed what appears to be a watered down version of existing DNR regulations.
On the other hand, Stone County may have strengthened their health ordinance, and Cedar County is going to court. The latter is particularly significant to Springfield and its water supply because of existing protections in place for Stockton Lake.
Perhaps most importantly, a group of plaintiffs has come together under the guidance of attorney Steve Jeffries to sue the Governor, the Missouri Clean Water Commission and the Missouri Air Conservation Commission for enacting regulations which violate the Missouri State Constitution. They have also included the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, and the Missouri Pork Association whose threats to counties with existing health ordinances I mentioned earlier.
The lawsuit has earned a restraining order to delay enforcement of SB 391 until a court hearing date of September 16 to consider a preliminary injunction against the new law.
If you sense a David vs. Goliath drama unfolding, stay tuned. And if you want to learn more about the issue join us on Saturday, September 7, from 1-3pm at the Moxie Theatre in Springfield, for an acclaimed documentary film, Right to Harm. Click here to view the invitation.
On a lighter note, I shared my Life is a River, a Bend Beyond presentation with an enthusiastic group of “Give 5” graduates at the Library Center last week. “Give 5” connects retirees with important volunteer opportunities in the community so that they might share their areas of interest, experience, and expertise with local organizations in need of the same. It is a marvelous program, pioneered by retired Springfield City Manager Greg Burris, with great potential for scaling up on a national basis. Environmental concerns are obviously high on their agenda.
And finally, on even a more personal note, the “First Annual Next Generation Beaver Creek Float Trip” brought children and grandchildren together for a memorable day on a favorite local stream.
That it took seven hours to cover a four mile float course speaks to time they spent in the water – couldn’t get them out of it long enough to paddle much! Such fun and joy on a glorious river day! Talk about “Children of the Creek.” Wait a minute. Isn’t that supposed to be the name of my next trilogy, due out before year end?
I hate to procrastinate, but we will have to wait a while to learn the fate of SB 391, local health ordinance protections against CAFO’s, and deep pocket lobbyist lawsuits. I know whose team I’m on!