Great Rivers Environmental Law Center

We’re coming to Kansas City!

Great Rivers President Kathleen Henry and Director of Development and Community Outreach Sarah Willey will be visiting Kansas City on March 5th and 6th, 2018. While they’re in town, they really hope to connect with you. There are three different events that you can participate in during their visit, and we invite you to join any combination of them:

Monday March 5th, 2pm – 4pm: Coffee and Conversation
at Panera Bread Company
(Country Club Plaza: 4700 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, MO 64112)

This is an informal, drop-in event where anyone who likes can join. We hope to hear about the environmental concerns local residents of Kansas City and the surrounding area are concerned with. If there are any questions about our work, we are also happy to answer those! See https://goo.gl/KX9hNo for more info.

Monday March 5th, 7pm – 9pm: Sustainable Sanctuary Coalition (SSCKC)
at Village Presbyterian Church (6641 Mission Rd., Prairie Village, KS 66208)

We are guest presenting at this monthly meeting – we’ll be sharing information on the environmental protections that are under attack by the current state and federal administrations, and what can be done to save these laws. This meeting is free and open to the public. Learn more about SSCKC at http://ssckc.org/.

Tuesday March 6th, 7:30am – 9:30am: Coffee and Conversation
at Crow’s Coffee (304 E. 51st St., Kansas City, MO 64112)

This is an informal, drop-in event where anyone who likes can join. We hope to hear about the environmental concerns local residents of Kansas City and the surrounding area are concerned with. If there are any questions about our work, we are also happy to answer those! See https://goo.gl/VNGkhD for more info.

Kathleen and Sarah hope to see you there! All 3 are open to the public, please feel free to share these events!

Fight Climate Change with your Search Engine!

Did you know that your online searches could fight Climate Change??

It’s easy – switch to Goodsearch, and set up Great Rivers Environmental Law Center as your cause. Every time you search, we get a penny… and it adds up fast! Without opening your own wallet, you’ve provided legal services to the community.

Thank you for your support!

Great Rivers Rejects Forest Service’s “Forest Health Initiative”

January 22, 2018. Great Rivers rejects the US Forest Service’s paradoxically named “Forest Health Initiative,” which calls for logging on 45,000 acres in the Mark Twain National Forest. Great Rivers urges the Forest Service to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement on the project as it will destroy critical habitat for the Indiana bat and other endangered species, as well as exacerbate climate change by eliminating thousands of mature trees. Read more about it here.

Garrett Broshuis Joins Great Rivers’ Board of Directors

We are pleased to welcome a new member to our Board of Directors!

Garrett R. Broshuis is an attorney at Korein Tillery in St. Louis. He received his J.D. from Saint Louis University, where he graduated valedictorian and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Journal. He obtained his B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is also an adjunct professor of sports law at Saint Louis University Law School.

Garrett’s law practice focuses on complex litigation. He represents dozens of former minor league baseball players in a wage-and-hour action challenging the pay scheme for minor leaguers. For this work he has been featured on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and numerous other news outlets throughout the country.

Before law school, Garrett played six years in baseball’s minor leagues for the San Francisco Giants. While at the University of Missouri, Garrett also earned both All-American and Academic All-American honors for NCAA Division-I baseball. For four years, he wrote a regular column for two sports magazines, The Sporting News and Baseball America.

In his free time, Garrett enjoys visiting Missouri’s state parks with his wife and two young children, and hopes that those parks are as beautiful for future generations as they are today.

Garrett picture

Great Rivers Urges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to Take a Harder Look at the Environmental Effects of Spire’s STL Pipeline

Great Rivers is taking action to ensure that climate change is considered in decisions to approve pipelines. On behalf of Juli Viel, a resident of St. Louis County, Great Rivers filed Comments on the Environmental Assessment in the federal approval process for Spire’s proposed natural gas pipeline slated to be built through a poor minority community of St. Louis County, and to cross the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers in the St. Louis area. The Spire Pipeline is planned to run 65 miles through Illinois and Missouri, and 75% of the population within .25 miles of the Project consists of minority and low income communities.

River Florissant.jpg

The proposed pipeline will cross the Missouri River near this location in Florissant.

Spire (formerly Laclede Gas Co.) proposes to build the Spire STL Pipeline to access gas from the shale fields of the northeast. This gas is produced by the harmful process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which pollutes water, releases methane (a potent greenhouse gas and the main component of natural gas), and even causes earthquakes. Great Rivers argues that the pipeline is not necessary, as even Spire acknowledges it has no need for additional gas, and that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conducted an inadequate review of the environmental and social justice effects of the pipeline.

On Monday, Great Rivers also filed a motion to intervene at FERC, which gives it the option to request a new hearing by FERC and appeal the decision to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Viel is calling on FERC to do a full Environmental Impact Statement rather than relying on its incomplete Environmental Assessment.

Ms. Viel, who is a nearby resident, staunchly opposes Spire’s pipeline. It would tunnel under the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and go through the Spanish Lake neighborhood, which is 75% African American.

“There is no need for this pipeline,” said Henry Robertson, Climate and Energy Program Director at Great Rivers. “FERC has a habit of rubber-stamping pipelines. This is completely out of step with a time when it should be facing the reality of climate change.”

Great Rivers is the only nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in Missouri, and provides free and reduced-fee legal services to those working to protect the environment and public health. For more information, visit: www.greatriverslaw.org.

Great visit to Springfield, MO

Sarah Willey, Great Rivers’ Director of Development and Community Outreach, spent a couple of days visiting Springfield last week. She was able to give presentations to two different groups, the Green County Democratic Alliance and the White River Group of the Missouri Sierra Club.

On Wednesday, October 11th, Sarah spoke to the Democratic Alliance about the importance of environmental law and citizen activism under an anti-environment political administration.

On Thursday, October 12th, Sarah spoke to the White River Group of the Missouri Sierra Club about the history of the Sierra Club’s use of environmental law as a tool in fulfilling their mission. Great Rivers has done a lot of work on behalf of the Missouri Sierra Club, and Sarah’s presentation shared the history of our organization and the ways that we have worked together in the past.

 

Join Us For a Fun Evening of Trivia!

Trivia Night Benefitting Great Rivers Environmental Law Center

Saturday, 6:30-10:00 pm.
The Heights, 8001 Dale Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63117.
Purchase your tickets at brownpapertickets.com.

Thanks to our Sponsor Old Bakery Brewing Company!

Tickets are just $20 per person, or $160 for a table.

Cash prizes for 1st place ($160) and 2nd place ($80)! We’ll have lots of raffle items and a 50/50 raffle.

Free beer, soft drinks, and snacks provided with ticket purchase. Attendees are welcome to bring in additional food and beverage. (No glass bottles, please!)

Tables may have a maximum of 8 players. Tell us who you want to sit with as you place your order; we will do our best to accomodate all requests. We reserve the right to combine groups of 5 or less. (Make new friends!)

Missouri Proposes Ban on Commercial Trapping of Wild Turtles

For Immediate Release, October 3, 2017
Contact:
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821, cadkins@biologicaldiversity.org
Bruce Morrison, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, (314) 231-4181,
bamorrison@greatriverslaw.org
Missouri Proposes Ban on Commercial Trapping of Wild Turtles
Thousands From State Rivers Have Been Caught, Sold
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.
In response to a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, the Missouri Department of Conservation yesterday proposed a ban on commercial collection of the state’s wild freshwater turtles — following a national trend of ending unsustainable turtle harvesting.
Under current law turtle traders can legally collect unlimited numbers of common snapping and softshell turtles to sell domestically or export for Asian food and medicinal markets.
Thousands of Missouri’s turtles have been caught and sold over the past 10 years. “I’m so glad Missouri is poised to do the right thing for its turtles,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science shows for-profit trapping is putting the state’s turtles at risk. If it’s finalized, this ban would protect the state’s turtles from trappers seeking to make a quick buck.”
Under current regulations in Missouri, holders of a commercial fishing permit may take unlimited numbers of common snappers, spiny softshells and smooth softshells from portions of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers with no closed season. According to the Department, 1,100 river miles are open to commercial turtle collection.
Scientists have repeatedly documented that freshwater turtles cannot sustain any significant level of wild collection without leading to population declines. For example, in a 2014 Missouri study researchers found that no commercial collection could be sustained for softshells and common snappers could withstand only minimum rates of juvenile collection and no adult collection.
“The survival of Missouri’s wildlife is in the hands of Missouri’s Department of Conservation,” said Bruce Morrison, general counsel for Great Rivers Environmental Law Center. “Thankfully the Department appears ready to take this step to protect these animals as a vital part of our State’s ecosystems.”
The public has 30 days to submit comments, which will be compiled and presented for consideration by the Missouri Conservation Commission. The state is expected to publish a final rule in February.
Background
Millions of turtles classified as wild-caught are exported from the United States every year to supply food and medicinal markets in Asia, where native turtle populations have already been depleted by soaring consumption. Because turtles bioaccumulate toxins from prey and burrow in contaminated sediment, turtle meat is often laced with mercury, PCBs and pesticides, posing a health risk. Adult turtles are also taken
from the wild to breed hatchlings for the international pet trade.
As part of a campaign to protect turtles in the United States, the Center for Biological
Diversity has been petitioning states that allow unrestricted commercial turtle collection to improve regulations. Of the states that share a border with Missouri, only Arkansas still allows unlimited commercial collection of turtles.
Just last week the Center and several Arkansas-based environmental organizations petitioned the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to end commercial collection of the state’s wild turtles. Also in September, Nevada created a statewide ban on the destructive commercial collection of all reptiles and New York halted all commercial terrapin turtle harvesting.
Before that, in March, Iowa adopted new regulations setting closed seasons and possession limits for commercial turtle trappers. In 2012 Georgia approved state rules regulating the commercial collection of turtles, and Alabama completely banned commercial collection. And in 2009 Florida responded by banning almost all commercial collection of freshwater turtles from public and private waters.
Common_Snapping_Turtle_Close_Up_Dakota_L_CC_BY-SA_FPWC

Common snapping turtle photo by Dakota L. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org
Great Rivers Environmental Law Center is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in St.Louis that provides free and reduced-fee legal services to those working to protect the environment and public health. www.greatriverslaw.org

Great Rivers Celebrates 15 Years

On August 1st, 2017, Great Rivers staff and board invited our Friends to join us at lunchtime or after work to celebrate our 15th birthday.

AM The Cake.jpg

The delicious cake our guests enjoyed.

The two parties were a wonderful chance to interact with our supporters and reflect on the many victories we celebrated during our first 15 years.

AM Ken Signs the Poster

Guest Ken Denson signs the “guestbook” – a poster that now hangs in our office!

To see more photos of the event, visit our album!

Missouri Supreme Court Lets Stand Obstruction of State Renewable Energy Law

April 26, 2017
MISSOURI SUPREME COURT LETS STAND OBSTRUCTION OF STATE RENEWABLE ENERGY LAW
On April 25, 2017, the Missouri Supreme Court refused an opportunity to enforce the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES), passed by voters in the 2008 election as Proposition C. Great Rivers Environmental Law Center had brought suit on behalf of the Missouri Coalitionfor the Environment (MCE), Missouri Solar Applications and taxpayer Thomas Sager. Great Rivers challenged the action of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a standingcommittee of the Missouri legislature, for interfering with the rule passed by the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) to implement the law.
The RES requires the state’s investor-owned utilities (Ameren Missouri, Kansas City Power & Light, and Empire District Electric Company) to ramp up their use of renewable energy to at least 15% of the power they sell to their Missouri customers by 2021. JCAR struck down the “geographic sourcing” provisions of the regulation, with the result that utilities are not required to actually deliver renewable energy to Missouri but can instead buy pieces of paper called “renewable energy credits” from solar and wind projects in faraway places like California.
The Missouri Supreme Court held the case was moot because the Public Service Commission had published a new rule in the intervening years. The issue of JCAR actingunconstitutionally in striking key provisions is left undecided.
“The legislature took geographic sourcing out of the rule. The PSC never thought it could put it back in,” said Henry Robertson, a Great Rivers attorney representing the plaintiffs. “JCAR violated the separation of powers under the Missouri Constitution by interfering with a rule passed by an executive branch agency. The new rule perpetuated this unconstitutional act; it did not make it go away.”
“The decision was disappointing because it undermined the will of the people and the democratic process,” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of MCE. “Luckily, the cost of renewable energy has come down so much that this decision won’t deter the growth and success of renewables, including the addition of thousands of jobs, that we’ve seen over the last few years.”
“The legislature has a long history of thwarting the vote of the people when they pass laws by ballot initiative,” said Robertson. “The Supreme Court missed a chance to redress this. Fortunately, renewable energy is here to stay even if the legislature and the utilities try to hold back the tide.”
Great Rivers is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in St. Louis that provides free and reduced-fee legal services to those working to protect the environment and public health. Its web address is: www.greatriverslaw.org
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri. Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love. Its web address is: www.moenvironment.org