“That hypocrisy was evident this year on another issue as well: hog mega-farms. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed, and Parson signed, a law denying local officials the power to set environmental standards stricter than those of the state for the smelly and potentially polluting facilities. The law made clear where state leaders come down when they weigh their principle of local control against their fealty to the powerful agribusiness industry.” — Editorial Board, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dec. 30, 2019 


Happy New Year and new decade! I hope this next one will be less stressful on Ozarkian waters, and our environment as a whole, than the past one has been.

Perhaps I should have added a question mark to my 12/3/19 teaser title for this post. “NEW BEGINNINGS?” definitely seems more appropriate just now.

You will recall that there was a Dec. 19 court date seeking to have Big Ag’s lawsuit to undo the new Eleven Point State Park dismissed. It didn’t happen, and drama over the future of that segment of a special National Wild and Scenic River watershed continues.

And then there was the resolution put forth by Springfield City Councilmen Lear and Schilling regarding Senate Bill 391. The proposed resolution condemned state overreach, for usurping local control regarding protections against unwanted CAFO placements, and for threatening the Cedar County Health Ordinance which provides some measure of protection to Stockton Lake and Springfield’s water supply.

Several of us spoke in support of the resolution one snowy December night, and were berated by an angry mayor for not groveling to the very state legislators who passed the corporate-ag sponsored legislation. 

Several advocates for clean water spoke to Springfield City Council on Dec. 16, 2019

Unfortunately, four members of the council voted with him to reject the resolution out of fear of retribution from state legislators. I was disappointed that none of them explained their opposition, unlike the four who individually expressed their reasons for supporting it.

Bottom line: A slight majority — including current leadership of city and county government — are more concerned with what Jeff City thinks than the people who elected them. Five to four. Two to one.

Future elections can send a message. The politics of fear must be confronted and overcome.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit seeking to overturn SB 391 proceeds to its trial date of Feb. 19, and it has a lot riding on it. I am grateful to the Cedar County Commissioners, who are a party to it with several others, for standing up for their rights — and ours. Loss of local control over unwanted CAFO incursions combined with the steady reduction of state regulations and protections cannot be good for waters of the Ozarks. 

Additionally, the Hickory Neighbors United lawsuit — challenging the previously discussed changes in requirements for majority independent citizen representation on the Missouri Clean Water Commission — continues in court, while legislation (HB 1408) is being proposed in the upcoming legislative session to restore that balance.

Sorry to be so dang obsessed with politics again. But, in the end, many who are fearful of the degradation of our most important regional natural resource — water — are not well represented locally or at the state and national levels, and need to do something about it. 

That’s my rant for the month.

Finally, it is reported that the infamous Buffalo River CAFO will be formally shut down Feb. 1. Ironically, that is the 65th birthday of one of the three grandmothers who went to court to protect the Buffalo National River from its toxic waste several years back. Thank you, Carol Bitting, and early Happy Birthday!

As we rise up, rather than wind down, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020, may we reach deep for energy and optimism. Maybe that’s the “New Beginnings” I was referencing, without the “?”.


Coming next, Feb. 1 – ON A LIGHTER NOTE….