Missouri Coalition for the Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Coalition for the Environment

(June 24, 20190 Melissa Vatterott (at left) and Rae Miller of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment joined Monday's talk show to discuss the organization's new Known and Grown campaign that helps showcase local farmers.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this month, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment launched a campaign aimed at getting the word out about farmers who are engaging in responsible agriculture practices by ethically raising animals and growing their food.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann will delve into what the new Known & Grown project entails, as well as its broader implications for growers and consumers, with the MCE’s food and farm director Melissa Vatterott and local food coordinator Rae Miller.

Nicki Morgan, a co-founder of Hart|Beet Farms, also joined the conversation by phone while at the farm in Lincoln County Missouri. The farm joined Known and Grown in 2018.

Josh Davis tends to his American mulefoot hogs on his farm in Pocahontas, Illinois on September 15, 2018.
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

At the end of 2018, Green Finned Hippy Farm in Pocahontas, Illinois, decided to stop selling its meat and poultry at farmers markets.

The reason, according to co-owner Alicia Davis, is she and her partner Joshua were spending a large amount of time driving their products to markets and explaining the farm’s practices, but only a few patrons would actually buy anything. They decided to pursue other ways of reaching customers, which included joining the Missouri Coalition for the Environment’s Known & Grown campaign that launched this month.

Black River near Annapolis, Mo.
National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of withholding information on mining and other development projects that could damage wetlands. 

The environmental group filed suit against the Corps of Engineers in late March, alleging that the agency denied it access to permits and documents that relate to mining and other types of projects. The suit claims that the Corps of Engineers' St. Louis and Little Rock districts have repeatedly refused to release documents, such as permit applications, using an exemption of the Freedom of Information Act.

A view of Lake Taneycomo in February 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

On a bright, brisk winter day in Branson, Mo., several dedicated fishermen tried to catch trout in Lake Taneycomo, a fast-moving, ribbon-shaped lake that snakes around the city.

The water appeared clear, but the lake has some ongoing issues, said David Casaletto, executive director of Ozarks Water Watch, a water quality group. For example, heavy rains in the summer have caused low levels of dissolved oxygen, which has hurt the trout population.

Under a recently proposed water quality rule from the Environmental Protection Agency, Lake Taneycomo, Mark Twain Lake and Lake of the Ozarks are among 113 lakes and reservoirs in Missouri that would be defined as “impaired” or too polluted for human use.

An aerial view of Lake of the Ozarks.
Courtesy Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau

Missouri will soon adopt new regulations to clean up the state’s 150 large lakes and reservoirs.

But environmentalists contend the state’s plan won’t be strong enough to address pollution caused by harmful nutrients.

Missouri currently does not set limits on nitrogen and phosphorus. A combination of agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff, sewage treatment plant discharges and other sources can cause an excessive amount of the nutrients to enter lakes, rivers and streams. Nutrient pollution can render bodies of water unsuitable for drinking and recreation, cause fish kills, and drag down oxygen levels to create “dead zones,” similar to the one that exists in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Sylvester Brown and Tamara plant sweet potato seeds in front of Union Avenue Christian Church in June.
Kim Oswalt | St. Louis Public Radio

Encouraging more residents to grow fruits and vegetables in St. Louis could depend on making it easier for residents to acquire vacant lots, according to a new survey. 

The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, consisting of environmentalists, policy experts and community leaders, collected 854 responses that came from nearly every neighborhood in the city. Residents were asked about their interest and participation in urban agriculture and the challenges they faced in doing so.

A dead zone with sediment from the Mississippi River carries fertilizer to the Gulf of Mexico.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This story was updated to clarify how the EPA would proceed. 

The Environmental Protection Agency will  propose regulations on nutrient pollution by mid-December 2017 to settle a lawsuit filed by an environmental group in U.S. District Court. 

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment filed a lawsuit against the EPA in February for not adequately addressing the issue of nutrient pollution through the Clean Water Act. The EPA has agreed to propose rules by next year, unless the agency approves criteria submitted by the state before the deadline. 

Nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients enter waterways through fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plant discharges. An overabundance of such nutrients have caused fish kills, harmful algal blooms and dead zones along the Mississippi River.

A dead zone with sediment from the Mississippi River carries fertilizer to the Gulf of Mexico.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Environmental advocates are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to manage nutrient pollution from states that border the Mississippi River. 

The Mississippi River Collaborative, a group of environmental policy experts, recently released a new report that describes how the 10 states along the river are not making progress in reducing the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus that eventually make its way down to the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone. 

Niang washes some freshly picked produce before selling it to Saint Louis University.
Kim Oswalt | St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition of food access organizations is surveying city residents to better understand how to encourage more urban agriculture in St. Louis.

The effort could lead to an ordinance that will remove some barriers people experience in growing their own food in the city.

(courtesy Ameren)

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment filed a federal lawsuit Thursday over a federal agency’s renewal for Ameren’s Callaway Nuclear Power Plant.

An MSD crew worked on a sanitation line in Webster Woods in 2015.
Metropolitan St. Lewis Sewer District

Updated 3/19/15 to correct the bond amount being requested and add a link to the full rate change proposal.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has proposed two major changes to the rates consumers pay for services and is holding a series of community meetings to explain them.

But even without the new proposals, everyone can expect to see their residential sewer rates continue to rise.

Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant license extended

Mar 9, 2015
Ameren's Callaway reactor is the only commercial nuclear power plant in Missouri.
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating license for Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant through 2044.

But ongoing litigation could quash that renewal.

Ameren Missouri's largest coal-fired power plant in Labadie, Missouri.
File photo | Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

Ameren is asking for more time and pitching an alternative plan to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to cut power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

The EPA's Clean Power Plan would require states to meet incremental goals starting in 2020, to measure progress toward the final target reduction. 

via Flickr / Mark Hadley

Farms surrounding St. Louis now dedicate much less land to growing fruits and vegetables than they did 80 years ago.  According to a report released Wednesday by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, only one tenth of 1 percent of the cropland surrounding St. Louis is dedicated to produce. Commodity crops such as corn and soybeans take up the vast majority of the agricultural land within a 100-mile radius of the city.

Solar panels are one upgrade business can make with PACE financing. The Fairview Heights City Council will consider tonight whether to allow the financing program in its city.
File photo| Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment and several solar panel companies have filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Public Service Commission in an effort to keep the state’s solar rebate program alive.

RiverCity Images

Updated 2/7/14 to correct the timeline of the lawsuit against MSD.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is preparing for its first big dig.

Starting in a few days, MSD will begin construction of a 3,028 foot-long tunnel under the River Des Peres, just south of Carondelet.

The tunnel will hold a pressurized pipe that will carry sewage to the Lemay Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Nuclear Policy Analyst: Radioactive Waste At West Lake Landfill Must Go

Nov 21, 2013
(Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio)

A nuclear policy analyst is adding his voice to those of area residents, environmental advocates and local government officials who want radioactive wastes out of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton.

Robert Alvarez served as a senior policy advisor in the Department of Energy under the Clinton administration and is currently a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated 4:07 p.m.

Preliminary work to build a firebreak at the Bridgeton Landfill will begin next week. But a local environmental group is worried about what it could stir up.

To figure out where they can safely dig the trench that will separate the underground fire from the radioactive waste, contractors will test the soil for radioactivity. That involves clearing trees and shrubs away from where the firebreak will be built.

Enbridge Energy Company, Inc.

Updated at 5:00 p.m.

A St. Louis-based environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to provide information about a multi-state oil pipeline project.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment says the Corps unlawfully withheld documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Regional officials with the federal Environmental Protection Agency are holding a public meeting Tues., June 25 to allay fears of Bridgeton area residents about the possible health risks posed by the radioactive waste stored at the West Lake Landfill.

The meeting is to be held at Pattonville High School, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 7, 2012 - Even if opponents of a license extension for Ameren’s Callaway County nuclear plant don’t succeed, they hope their efforts will have long-term effects on nuclear power in Missouri and beyond.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 26, 2012 - After years of stalled attempts to build a second large nuclear reactor in Callaway County, Ameren Missouri now wants to change course and install one or more smaller modular reactors on the site.

But while the size and the technology may be different, the players and the arguments for and against such a move are largely the same.

Updated 2:15 p.m. with link to full legal document.

A St. Louis-based environmental group is asking the federal government to more closely scrutinize Ameren Corp.'s request for a 20-year license renewal at Missouri's only nuclear power plant.

(via Ted Heisel/Missouri Coalition for the Environment)

A consent decree that will settle a four-year-old lawsuit against the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District over violations of the Clean Water Act is a step closer to taking effect.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 19, 2011 - WASHINGTON - In the wake of this summer's severe flooding, members of Congress from Missouri have been mounting what appears to be a systematic effort to slash studies and efforts that aim to restore the ecosystems along the now-swollen Missouri River -- even though many analysts feel that such restoration can help lessen future flooding.

(Ted Heisel/Missouri Coalition for the Environment)

The board of the Metropolitan Sewer District has approved a settlement with the federal government and a local environmental action group over violations of the Clean Water Act.

The state of Missouri was also a party to the 2007 lawsuit, but did not approve the settlement.

The agreement will, among other things, require MSD to:

(via Flickr/Paul Sableman)

The Board of Trustees for the Metropolitan Sewer District gave its initial approval last night to a multi-billion dollar plan to settle a Clean War Act lawsuit.

The state of Missouri and the EPA filed the suit in 2007, which the Missouri Coalition for the Environment later joined. It alleged, among other things that

Updated 3:30 p.m. June 3 to include comment from MSD.

Updated at 9:55 a.m. June 3 to reflect that the State of Missouri has not signed on to the consent decree.

A lawsuit brought by the Environmental Protection Agency against the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District back in June 2007 could soon be resolved.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 14, 2010 - "Litigation is not for the faint of heart," prominent St. Louis environmental lawyer Lewis C. Green once wrote.

Green is the subject of a new book, "A Force for Nature: The Environmental Litigation of Lewis C. Green," by Patricia Tummons and Florence Shinkle, both former reporters and editors with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The book provides blow-by-blow accounts of some of the region's most memorable environmental cases, and makes it clear that Green didn't shy away from protracted, highly divisive legal battles.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 24, 2009 - The half-life of the radioactive material in the West Lake landfill in northwest St. Louis County is thousands of years. The controversy over how to deal with it is heading in that direction.

The latest development is a resolution by the St. Louis County Council asking that jurisdiction over the site be transferred from the Environmental Protection Agency, which came up with a plan for the site last year, to the Army Corps of Engineers.

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