Lawsuit Challenging Revised Clean Water Commission Law Blocked by Missouri Supreme Court

July 18, 2019 AT 7:25 AM

By Kurt Erickson

The Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday rejected an attempt to block a 2016 state law that gives farming interests more power to regulate the state’s water quality.

In a unanimous decision, the high court said the Missouri Coalition For The Environment did not have legal standing to pursue the state Legislature’s rewrite of the Missouri Clean Water Commission.

The panel has the ability to approve or deny construction permits for facilities that have the potential to pollute Missouri waterways. Among other duties, it regulates large factory-style hog farms, which produce bacteria-laced manure that could harm people if the waste were to seep into the drinking water supply.

In North Carolina, for example, scores of sewage lagoons filled with hog waste mixed with floodwaters after Hurricane Florence hit the coast last year, raising concerns about a rise in disease.

The Missouri law was spawned in response to a 2015 decision by the commission to stop a large animal feeding lot in Grundy County. The hog farm would have generated 90 tons of manure a year.

In 2016, agriculture groups like the Missouri Farm Bureau pushed the Republican-led Legislature to alter the make-up of the commission by allowing fewer representatives of the public on the panel.

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