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Analysis: MO Clean Air Act Violators Vastly Outspend Environmental Groups

The "Clean Missouri" measure received more than 300,000 signatures to qualify for this year's ballot. (Sierra Club, Missouri Chapter)
The "Clean Missouri" measure received more than 300,000 signatures to qualify for this year's ballot. (Sierra Club, Missouri Chapter)
October 29, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Corporations that have violated the Clean Air Act are vastly outspending environmental groups in political contributions in Missouri, raising questions about their outsized influence on the legislature.

The Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club analyzed three companies with documented violations of the Clean Air Act and found they have contributed more than $1.2 million to state officials, political parties or PACs since 2015.

In comparison, four Missouri environmental groups have contributed $9,400 over that period – 136 times less.

John Hickey, director of the Missouri Sierra Club, says that's why the state needs Amendment 1, which aims to reduce the role money plays in state government.

"One hundred, thirty-six times is enormous,” he stresses. “And that explains one of the reasons why these corporate polluters are able to evade the law or rewrite the law so that they do not have to follow the Clean Air Act and they can pollute the air that we all have to depend on."

Amendment 1, known as Clean Missouri, would substantially limit lobbyist gifts to state lawmakers and lower campaign donation limits for legislative candidates.

The measure also would create a nonpartisan demographer position to draw legislative maps.

A 2017 Associated Press study found the state's districts give Republicans more representation than one would expect given voting numbers.

Opponents say they believe maps still won't be fairly drawn under this amendment.

Rachel Speed is a volunteer with the Missouri Sierra Club working on the Clean Missouri campaign. She says many of the voters she talks to are concerned about the influence of corporations on lawmakers.

"They want to take big money out of politics so that their representatives are not representing interests of corporations, and they want to be heard,” she states.
They want to know that their representatives and senators are going to listen to them and listen to their issues and their concerns."

The Sierra Club's analysis of companies that violated the Clean Air Act looked at Ameren Missouri, the Doe Run Company and Continental Cement.

The Sierra Club found that combined these companies have 50 paid lobbyists.

The four environmental groups – Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Sierra Club, Missouri Votes Conservation and Renew Missouri – have six paid lobbyists among them.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MO