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On Wednesday, I attended Conservation Lobby Day in Jefferson City and tried to keep up with all the bright and energetic people half my age. That’s me above the y in efficiency

The event was co-sponsored by Missouri Sierra Club, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, and Missouri Votes Conservation

The day was very well organized, and we could choose one of four topics to discuss with the legislators on our list.  I chose water resources because I live close to Labadie where Ameren UE wants to enlarge its coal ash dump next to the Missouri River.  Fortunately, a group of Labadie residents are already organized and fighting the utility company on this. The Labadie Environmental Organization website has a beautiful photo of the river and the plant in the distance.  While you are checking that out, sign their petition, “No Landfills in a Flood Plain.”

For an even better view of the proximity of the power plant to the river, go to this satellite photo

Everyone downstream of Labadie should be concerned about this.  For those who believe nothing bad will happen and that the utility company is protecting us from toxic spills, just remember Taum Sauk.  Term-limited Sen. John Griesheimer couldn’t care less about this potential disaster and didn’t even pretend to be interested in anything our group had to say.

We got a little better reception from the state rep for that district, Scott Dieckhaus.  At least he admits that river bottom land is fragile and porous.  He blushingly told us a little secret he’d heard from “a reliable source.”  Some company which must remain nameless may buy up the coal ash slurry mess and make  some kind of secret product in a plant whose whereabouts he doesn’t know at some unknown point in the future.  Well, problem solved!  I feel better, don’t you?

Besides bringing our concerns about Ameren UE’s plans to our reps, we were tasked with asking them to support raising the fees that polluters pay to dump crap in our streams and rivers.  The fees haven’t been raised in a decade although they’ve been studied to death.

Of course, there’s no money in the state budget to hire more inspectors to test the waters, but we weren’t asking for the public to bear that expense.  Our point was that those who profit from polluting water that supposedly belongs to all of us should pay at least enough for the Water Protection Program of DNR to protect us from a major chemical or biological disaster.

According to Joe Bachant, retired after 35 years with Missouri Dept. of Conservation, the e coli problem at Lake of the Ozarks is not just the tip of the iceberg, it’s “the fog rising off the tip of the iceberg.”  Bachant and others who know what they are talking about predict there will be a major health and safety disaster at some point in the future.

From what I could gather from folks who follow this clean water topic like most of us follow St. Louis sports teams, there is no leadership in Jeff City right now on this.  Stay tuned and don’t drink the water.