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Now that we have President Obama and Governor Nixon, the EPA and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) will do the right thing environmentally. More often. But a change at the top doesn’t change a pumpkin into a carriage with six coursers pulling it with a tap of your fairy godmother’s wand.

Even under Bush and Blunt, lots of competent people stuck it out at those two agencies, but they worked with folk, both colleagues and superiors, who were either anti-science or just plain bumbling. And some of those incompetent or deluded people haven’t left.

Ken Midkiff and Tom Kruzen, in pursuing the case against Peirce Township for the way it mauled Dixon’s Crossing on the headwaters of the Jacks Fork, found some bureaucrats who were competent and others who were … less than that. And one of the competent ones admitted, in disgust, that without the pressure Midkiff and Kruzen brought to bear on EPA7, the fourteen thousand dollar judgment against Peirce would have just, sort of, slipped everybody’s mind.

The fine was levied because Peirce Township brought a road grader in and changed this:

to this:

Which caused this, when it rains:

Anyhow, Peirce Township is either going to have to do the mitigation work by September 1st or cough up the cash. So that tale is turning out well.

On the other hand, Midkiff recently met with four state agency pooh bahs and was dismayed to find policies in place that Big Ag loves.

It was a bit disturbing to learn that nobody is counting. MDNR takes the word of CAFO operators about how many hogs or chickens they have. That was a minor problem, though, compared to this:

If, however, a previously-under 2599-hog or 29999-chicken, CAFO expands and has double or triple that number a Construction Permit is not required upon application for a permit.  The CAFO goes directly from nothing to an Operating Permit.

Most troubling of all was that Midkiff learned that three of the officials believe Big Ag p.r. Rob Morrison, the MDNR Water Permits official, insisted that lawsuits against CAFOs are mostly filed by urban move-ins who don’t understand that country air doesn’t always smell like lilacs. That’s the bs that the Farm Bureau spreads, but it’s a fabrication, and Midkiff spoke up. He had just published an op ed piece in the Columbia Tribune and the Joplin Globe refuting that myth by offering many examples of longtime rural residents filing the lawsuits. Midkiff got some support in his argument from Joe Bindbeutel, the Deputy Director of MDNR, but the other two were silent on the topic and Morrison was unconvinced.

Transforming this pumpkin isn’t going to happen with one flick of the wand. Looks like Midkiff, Bindbeutel and other people who are clued in will have to build their carriage the hard way. But it tries Ken’s patience. He wrote:

MDNR issues permits under the pretext that the only opposition comes from all those cute little ranchette owners.  THIS HAS NO BASIS IN REALITY!

It’s enough to make a guy spit tacks.