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2017 Has Been A Tough Year For Environmental Issues

Don Corrigan

Let’s be honest: nature, the outdoors and the environment have taken a beating this year. But before we get to the bad news, let’s chalk up some much-needed good news – much of it is local.

By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

Organizations like Audubon, Open Space Council and more scored a victory in saving some valuable green space in Creve Coeur Lake Park this fall. They led efforts to stop an industrial-sized ice facility with their protests and their online petition with 18,000 signatures.

Speaking of the Open Space Council (OSC), this local group recently marked its 50th anniversary of Operation Clean Stream. Some 1,900 volunteers removed 2,053 tires and 557 cubic yards of trash from the Meramec River Watershed in this year’s massive outdoor effort.

In Sunset Hills, OSC members helped build a trail loop in the newly-created Forest River Trail Park providing access to native woodland and the Meramec River. Whenever I get depressed about environmental setbacks, I hit these local trails all over the St. Louis region. They make up one big outdoor bright spot.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad news to get depressed about right now. I am biking the trails a lot! There may be too much bad news to contain in these few column inches. However, some of it needs to be talked about and confronted.

At the state level:
– Officials have stripped restrictions on livestock stink from CAFO farm operations. Will they provide us with clothespins for the nose when we travel down rural trails and canoe the rivers?

– Gov. Eric Greitens wants to sell three of our state parks for a little extra income. Maybe we need to quash those plans for tax-exempt country club memberships. The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has a petition drive to stop the sale of our precious park lands.

– Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources wants to revamp its mission statement with less emphasis on the protection of air, water and climate; and more emphasis on protecting the commercial and industrial climate. How does this jive with Natural Resources?

At the federal level:
– Can you say Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Talk about bad news. His moves to kill off the Clean Power Act will cause severe damage to national parks, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. Hey, human beings might not fare so well either with dirtier air.

– Can you say Ryan Zinke at the U.S. Department of Interior? Old Stinky Zinke wants to privatize some national parks and open others to oil drilling.

– Closer to home, the feds at EPA are still debating what to do with that leaky radioactive mound at West Lake. We’ve been dealing with nuclear waste in St. Louis for more than one-half century. Where is our Congressional delegation on this threat to the entire region?

Enough bad news for now. Good news is coming — so keep on pedaling.

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