Labadie Environmental Organization won’t back down in its fight against an Ameren landfill

By Tina Casagrand

Missouri is landlocked and mountainless—so much for ecological threats, right?

Think again.

Our state is out of the oil spill, natural gas fracking and mountaintop removal limelight, but we still have environmental concerns. Take Franklin County, about 100 miles east of Columbia on the Missouri River. When AmerenUE proposed a coal combustion waste landfill on a floodplain, the energy goliath thought their actions would go overlooked—Labadie’s a tiny farm community, after all. But the grassroots Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO) fought back.

MO River
Does it make sense to site a landfill on a Missouri River floodplain?

Members of LEO united to “inform and educate the community about the environmental issues impacting health and well-being: to inspire positive change, and to encourage practices for sustainable land use.”  They have a beautiful explanation for this: “an engaged community is an unstoppable natural resource and intend to mobilize its power for the betterment of our community and those whose interests are intertwined with ours.”

Our friends in Franklin County show the power of civic involvement through education, community organizing and legal defense. They’ve run into continuous obstacles, but have yet to back down.  For instance, the latest landfill hearing in Union, MO, lasted over 5 hours, prompting the county to call for another hearing to allow everyone to speak.  Check out the LEO blog for more details.

  • County officials finally shared hearing rules on 12/10.
  • Then pulled a last minute rule change at the hearing.
  • Ameren landfill references disallowed. Again!
  • Public cries foul. County threatens to throw folks out.
  • Citizens offer compelling (limited) testimony to Commissioners.
  • Too many people to be heard on 12/14…terrific turnout.
  • Another hearing will be scheduled in early 2011. Date TBD.

Columbia may sit upriver from the proposed landfill, but we all have a stake in this.  As we’ve seen from disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a simple mistake in design or execution can devastate local communities and ecosystems. When water is involved, the impact extends much further.  Contaminants can leech into groundwater as well as hit anywhere those tides and streams flow. What affects one community affects all of us.  You can take action online or in person — it’s a simple way to make an impact.

MU’s Raptor Rehabilitation Project

Photos by Tina Casagrand

At a recent bald eagle release at Eagle Bluffs (video to come), volunteers with the University of Missouri’s Raptor Rehabilitation Project brought along some friends to teach about these stunning predatory birds.

volunteer with a red-tailed hawk
Volunteer with Emma, a red-tailed hawk, one of the program's residential "education birds."

The Raptor Rehabilitation Project provides a mechanism for educating the public about birds of prey, combining natural history and species information with personal experience to deliver educational programs throughout mid-Missouri. The project also gives veterinary students, community members, and other students the opportunity to work hands-on with professional veterinary medical faculty and cutting-edge technology to rehabilitate and release injured or ill birds. Continue reading MU’s Raptor Rehabilitation Project

Chickens and farm bills and pigs, oh my!

By Tina Casagrand

missouri factory farm map

The more than 15 million broiler chickens on factory farms in Barry County, Missouri produce twice as much untreated manure as the sewage from the greater Denver metro area.

Two times the untreated manure as Denver’s sewage.  From one county in Missouri.

You can explore this interactive map of Missouri factory farms (mostly pig) and compare them to the nation (we could do worse).  At, you can also read about problems, learn how to take action, and download a 48-page report titled Factory Farm Nation.

The Senate’s passage of the new farm safety bill wasn’t the hardest thing to sell–salmonella and e. coli scares were becoming too frequent and sweeping to not incite concern.  And while it may have been good for some local farmers, it’s still in our country’s interest to address the problems brought about by factory farming and a national food system from the top-down.

To stay up-to-date on the Food Safety Modernization Act, you can visit or simply follow Michael Pollan’s Twitter feed.