"Welcome to the Water Wars"
In today's Joplin Globe (January 5, 2010), is a Letter to the Editor that pretty much defines the Environmental Battlefields in Missouri today. Thank you Kaye Smith for so eloquently bringing MDNR Director-Nominee, Sara Pauley, up-to-speed...
[Editor’s note: The following was written as an open letter to Sara Pauley, a nominee for director of the Department of Natural Resources.]
Congratulations on your nomination, and welcome to the water wars.
The story (Globe, Dec. 26) in The Joplin Globe was encouraging as to your experience and credentials. Also reassuring was the obvious fact that you would come into your new position neither inept nor invisible.
Hunters and fishermen were surely reassured to learn both you and your husband share a history and proclivity toward those enterprises. You obviously recognize their concerns and interests.
Less reassuring to some readers were your terse comments about the regulation of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Missouri, their proximity to state parks and historic sites, and their potential harm to the environment: “The department is limited in what it can do. We have existing tools and that’s all we have. If the public wants to see additional tools, it’s the public that must speak.” (Stating the problem required more words that your laconic response).
First, “the public” has been speaking for several years. People and groups all over Missouri have been speaking out, voicing their concerns. Roaring River Parks Alliance, Friends of Arrow Rock, Barton County Richland Township, etc. have spoken out, held public meetings, written letters, printed flyers, attended Lobby Day at the Capitol, appeared before commissions, and gone to court. The problem does not lie with speaking, rather it lies with getting anyone to listen.
When the people get to speak with their votes, they do the right thing, i.e. last fall’s Prop. B. Despite a media frenzy in opposition, “the people” said puppy mills were a bad thing. Now we read some lawmakers want to repeal this proposition. Why? So much for “the people” speaking.
Addressing “lack of tools,” DNR wants regulations covering where and how many CAFOs can be built and where and how to dispose of the manure produced by millions of confined chickens, turkeys and hogs — which currently can be dumped anywhere. New rules must come from our legislators, and the only voices they hear are those of the wealthy, influential interests that finance CAFOs.
Ever wonder why state lawmakers failed to renew water permit requirements that generate a quarter of the revenue for DNR’s water quality enforcement program?
The only cover DNR should need is found in its mission statement. DNR’s entire reason for existing is “to protect, preserve, and defend Missouri’s natural resources, state parks and historic sites.” Any other consideration should be secondary and unneeded.
My apologies for the tone of this reaction to the Globe article, but your reply to the discussion of CAFOs seemed dismissive of the concerns of many people. You must be thinking, “I’m not even there yet and already being criticized.” I reiterate ... welcome to the water wars.
Kaye Smith is a member of Roaring River Parks Alliance. She lives in Pierce City