A little while ago, I posted a commentary that touched upon a controversy over a proposed 10,000-hog factory in Livingston County, near Chillicothe. At that time, the Missouri Clean Water Commission was considering an “emergency” exception to its clean water rules that would allow the construction of the facility, despite questions about its impact on the local groundwater.
The debate over what constitutes “groundwater” and what doesn’t, which is where this controversy arose, is highly technical, and I won’t pretend to the level of expertise necessary to opine on it with any claim to authority. But I do need to update the information, because the Clean Water Commission decided yesterday that the proposed feeding operation can go ahead. The vote was 5-1, and you can read a thorough story about its discussion and vote here.
“Disappointed but not surprised” was the general reaction among the environmentalists and local residents who had argued against the permit. When I reached the end of the story, I realized why they had reacted that way.
The one vote against the factory farm came from a retired executive director of a rural sewer district.
The votes in favor came from the other five members of the commission, who are:
- The executive director of a nonprofit organization funded by all the major ag associations, lenders, and companies;
- A board member of the Missouri Farm Bureau;
- A former member of the Missouri Corn Board;
- The treasurer of the state Republican Party;
- The former president of the MIssouri Soybean Association.
In other words, people for whom the idea of regulation is anathema to begin with. The Clean Water Commission is thoroughly stacked against any proposal that does not mesh with the profit pursuits of Big Ag in the state. They should probably start putting ironic quote marks around their name, i.e. the “Clean Water” Commission. If you’re hoping that the state government will act as any sort of counterweight to the pursuit of maximum profit at the expense of the public good, this is not the direction to look.