Missouri Sierra Club: MO Department of Natural Resources denies extension on coal ash rule comment period

Missouri Sierra Club released a statement related to the coal ash waste rule comment period and proposed regulations.

Excerpt from the release: “It is already plain that the rules are designed to protect utilities’ bottom lines rather than the interest of the public, including people who rely on groundwater for drinking water and agriculture. It is also plain that the utilities played a role in drafting these rules,” said Maxine Lipeles of Washington University Interdisciplinary Environmental Law Clinic. “It is necessary to review the full record to see how extensive that role was.”

See the full release below.

Late last Thursday, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released nearly 1,900 documents in response to a Sunshine Law request that was filed 2 ½ months earlier. That development came days before the March 28 deadline of the coal ash waste rule comment period.  A cursory review of the documents suggests that Missouri utilities worked closely with DNR in drafting an exceptionally weak package of regulations. DNR kept the public in the dark throughout the rule drafting process, and yesterday denied a request to extend the comment period so that the public could review these documents before commenting. DNR had earlier denied a request to hold public hearings at other locations around the state, and in the evening rather than during business hours, so that people living near coal plants could participate in the process.

Nearly 1,500 Missourians and over 20 organizations have submitted comments against this new rule, and many neighbors of Ameren’s Labadie plant went to Jefferson City last week to testify against the proposed regulations at a public hearing. The Environmental Protection Agency has also criticized the newly proposed rules as insufficient to protect public health and natural resources.

“It is already plain that the rules are designed to protect utilities’ bottom lines rather than the interest of the public, including people who rely on groundwater for drinking water and agriculture. It is also plain that the utilities played a role in drafting these rules,” said Maxine Lipeles of Washington University Interdisciplinary Environmental Law Clinic. “It is necessary to review the full record to see how extensive that role was.”

“The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is supposed to be working to protect Missouri residents from harmful pollution. From the few documents we’ve been able to review so far, it appears  that DNR is working for the utilities and not the public,” said Andy Knott of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign. “This is like the fox guarding the hen house. We need to know our tax-payer funded agencies aren’t working for the very polluters they have been charged to protect us from.”

These documents were requested by Washington University on behalf of the Sierra Club, Labadie Environmental Organization, and community advocates impacted by coal ash.  Copies of the correspondence between the Washington University Clinic and DNR are available upon request.

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