Great Rivers Engages MDNR to Improve Missouri’s Air Quality

These past several months Great Rivers has been working hard to protect air quality throughout Missouri. The cumulative effects of exposure to multiple sources of air pollution – especially in the young and the elderly – increases one’s risk of developing asthma and other respiratory illnesses, cancer, and heart disease. We also sadly learned this last year that these types of cumulative air exposures increase the likelihood of worse outcomes after contracting COVID-19.

Air pollution is a threat multiplier, including for symptoms of COVID-19.

In the last year we have engaged the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) on sixteen draft air pollution permits, as well as on proposed amendments to the State’s plan to implement the federal Clean Air Act. Our work has taken us to North St. Louis, South St. Louis, Kansas City, Howardville, Marston, Springfield and Farmington.

In the last year Great Rivers has engaged MDNR on 16 draft air pollution permits… Our work has taken us to North St. Louis, South St. Louis, Kansas City, Howardville, Marston, Springfield and Farmington.

Highlighting some recent work in Springfield, Missouri, the Springfield City Utilities sought to renew its operating permit and to amend one of its construction permits for its coal-fired power plant. While many of Missouri’s coal plants are located in rural areas, the Springfield coal plant is located upwind from Missouri’s third largest city. 25,767 Missourians, including 7,020 children, live within three miles of the plant, and nine schools are located within a three-mile radius. A twelve-mile radius from the plant captures most of Springfield, which has a population totaling 289,636 Missourians, of which 73,796 are children.

Springfield sits downwind from a coal plant, jeopardizing local health.
(Photo via Real Window Creative/Shutterstock)

In the draft permit, MDNR proposed dropping any requirement that the facility monitor for emissions of hazardous air pollutants. Because of the risk of serious harm to the health of the many Missourians living nearby in the case of an accidental emission of hazardous pollutants from the Facility, Great Rivers, on behalf of our client Sierra Club, is fighting to retain the hazardous air monitoring requirements for the Facility. We have also asked DNR to bolster monitoring and record keeping requirements at the Facility.

Great Rivers Environmental Law Center is a Missouri-based public interest law firm that provides free and reduced-fee services to individuals, organizations and citizen groups working to protect the environment and public health. We receive no government funding and rely on donations to sustain our work.

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