The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has a recurring theme, it seems, on all issues. The use of phrases such as “evidence is inconclusive" and ”to comply in the future" are becoming all too familiar to the citizens of Missouri who are on the receiving end of odor and pollution from major industries. The MDNR penalty matrix does not present a significant incentive to industries to clean up their acts. The MDNR's detection threshold sets the bar too high for effective odor and pollution control. Consider these examples:
- KCP&L's Iatan 1 coal fired power plant near Weston is one of many permit/violation issues spewing out of the MDNR. Even though a report by the Washington University Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic indicated the Iatan 1 plant violated its exisitng permit, the MDNR was not phased and issued a new permit for KP&L to move ahead with a $1.3 billion expansion to build an Iatan Unit 2 850-megawatt coal-fired electricy generating plant on the existing Iatan power plant site.
- Premium Standard Farms (have we got hogs), in northern Missouri generated 466 odor complaints over a two year period, 11-03 to 9-05, and MDNR conducted only 17 on-site investigations. Only one investigation was performed the same day as the complaint; others were performed up to 14 days later.
- Renewable Energy Systems, on the north side of Carthage is a demonstration plant that renders oil from waste animal body parts. This plant was promoted as a "0" emissions facility. The gagging stench produced by the plant has not resulted in civil or significant penalty action on the part of the MDNR even though the City of Carthage and the Missouri Attorney General have joined in a nuisance lawsuit against the RES plant. And even though the Governor of Missouri ordered the plant shut down as of December 29, 2005 for 60 days, the plant continues to operate. And the Office of the Missouri Attorney General is stymied because the MDNR and the Clean Air Commission have refused to refer multiple Notices of Excess Emissions to them for civil action.
- The MDNR issued a permit to Moark/Land O'Lakes egg factory (LOL will be taking over the operation completely due to a recent corporate decision) to expand its egg laying operation from 1.3 million to 3.9 million chickens. The odor-generating operation is located at the south edge of Neosho (pop. about 10,000) about one mile from the large campus of Crowder College and also within smelling distance of an elementary school. Although more than 3600 citizens have signed a petition opposing the expansion due to health concerns, water depletion, surface water contamination and odor issues and MDNR ombudsmen sent to the area to investigate the issue seemed sympathetic, neither affected the permit from being issued. According to correspondence dated March 24, 2005 from MDNR director Doyle Childers to Neosho's Moark/Land O'Lakes: “The department is aware of your interest in obtaining a timely construction permit for the project. “My staff has projected the following milestone dates. Please be aware that although we will do everything in our ability to keep this project on schedule, mitigating factors such as public interest has a tendency to impact those dates. The department does not wish to unduly delay your project.....”
The MDNR's business friendly atmosphere does not have a people friendly odor about it.
When reviewing the MDNR's animal factory regulation processes, one is left to conclude that the animal factory industries are writing the MDNR's regulations...And the local hospitals keep expanding their wings. It's business as usual in the We'll Show You State. The mythical little people, many now pulling around oxygen tanks, need an agency in Missouri free of political control to enforce state and federal air and water pollution regulations.
Commentary by May Belle Osborne