By Tina Casagrand
Missouri is landlocked and mountainless—so much for ecological threats, right?
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.
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.