Michael Berg
04/04/11

2011 Lobby Day Brings Environmentalist Voice to Jefferson City

On Tuesday, March 29, nearly 100 Missourians came from all parts of the state to make their voices heard in Jefferson City on environmental issues. This Conservation Lobby Day was a joint effort of the Missouri Sierra Club, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Missouri Votes Conservation.

We spoke directly with the majority of Missouri's state Senators and Representatives. We educated these lawmakers on the issues that we care about. They know we are here. They know we vote. They know we are mobilized, and they know we are watching them.

These are the five issues that we stressed to our legislators on March 29:

Advancing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policies: Policies include encouraging energy smart practices, converting industrial heat into electricity and assisting commercial and residential building owners in financing energy efficiency retrofits.

No to "Mini-CWIP": Preventing the first stage of funding for a possible $6+ billion construction project that would cost ratepayers $300/year to fund dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear energy.

Protecting Water Quality: Insuring adequate monitoring and enforcement to protect Missouri’s streams and lakes.

Upgrading State Parks: Insuring funding for vitally-needed capital improvements to maintain Missouri’s excellent parks.

Building Green with LEED Certificiation: making buildings more energy efficient through green building standards.

Thank you to everyone who participated and keep up the pressure. Below is the information that we gave to legislators on the five issues above.

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Advancing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policies

Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)

In 2008, 66% of Missourians voted to pass Prop C. It requires investor-owned utilities to receive at least 15% of electricity from sources like wind, solar, and biomass.

Unfortunately , the Joint Committee on Administrative Rule (JCAR) recently removed the key “sold to Missouri” provision. Without the provision, utilities can meet the RES by buying renewable energy credits from anywhere in the world, rather than ensuring local renewable energy development and job creation.

We strongly encourage the General Assembly to reinstate the Sold to Missouri provision within the RES in HB 613 or similar legislation.

Interconnection Standards HB 877

When an electric co-operative or business develops a renewable energy system, such as a biomass plant, a landfill gas generator, or a methane digester, they have to go through a lengthy, complicated, and costly process to interconnect and sell the electricity back onto the grid.

Interconnection standards streamline and simplify the interconnection process, thereby reducing the cost and time it takes to develop and use renewable sources of power.

Renewable energy in Missouri creates jobs. By removing interconnection hurdles and prioritizing geographically sourcing for our renewable electricity standards, we can create new jobs in Missouri now.

Points to Consider:

  • Missouri gets 80% of its electricity from coal fired power while the national average is 50%.
  • We pay $1.2 billion to import coal from out of state.
  • Burning Coal pollutes the air and water with lead mercury and other toxic metals - a proven cause of asthma and developmental disorders in children.
  • Renewable energy creates jobs and results in new local economic investments greatly benefit Missouri ’s rural and urban communities.
  • $1 million invested in Renewable energy creates 17 jobs.
  • Wind turbines can create job on farmland without loss of productivity.
  • Interconnection standard makes it easier for corporations to invest in new power.

Picture: Lost Creek Wind Farm in North West Missouri, is generating enough electricity to power 50,000 homes. The 100, American-made, wind turbines span more than 23,000 acres just outside of King City. A Missourians typically receives $7,000 a year for every turbine installed on their property.

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Say No to “Mini-CWIP” HB 124/SB 321/SB 406

SB 321/SB 406/ HB 124 represent the first step of a long and expensive road to a $6+ billion nuclear project that could cost ratepayers $300+ dollars per year to fully fund.

Nuclear power is dirty, dangerous and expensive. Energy efficiency retrofits and clean energy can address Missouri’s energy future over the next 20 years and allow for the retirement of aging coal plants:

A VP at Ameren said, “If we went after [just] the [energy efficiency] potential that we've seen in our own study, we wouldn't have to build another power plant for 20 years, and we could retire [the] Meramec [coal plant], and we'd be OK.”

Moreover, energy efficiency can lower our total energy needs and shave “peak demand”.

Investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy will creates more jobs now, not 10 years down the road.

We need to invest in Missouri

Nuclear is not the solution to Missouri’s energy demands. Other states are certainly “showing Missouri” that energy efficiency works. Missouri currently ranks 45th in energy efficiency.

Wall Street gave up on nuclear investment decades ago. Instead, they back energy efficiency and renewable energy. Utilities can only build nuclear power plants with funding upfront from taxpayer and ratepayer money.

Points to consider:

  • Energy Efficiency creates 17 jobs for every $1 million spent.
  • Fossil fuel and nuclear create 7 jobs for $1 million spent.
  • Renewable Electricity and Energy Efficiency can be installed now.
  • Energy Efficiency upgrades and Renewable Electricity Generation can be installed throughout the State.
  • Energy Efficiency costs between $0.025 and $0.03/ kilowatt hour (kWh)saved.
  • Wind (without subsidies) is $0.075/kWh.
  • Newly Installed nuclear power will cost between $0.12 and $0.30/kWh.
  • $61 million in Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds were available for energy efficiency investment in Missouri.

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Water Pollution Permit Program Fees

On December 31st, 2010, DNR’s ability to charge fees for the recovery of the cost involved in research, writing, and enforcement of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) expired. Prior to their expiration, the NPDES fees had remained at the same level for 8 years and were unable to cover the cost of operating the program. In 2008 the Joint Committee on Restructuring Fees of the Clean Water and Stormwater Program on the subject of water quality monitoring, issuance or permits, and compliance with federal regulation governing water quality. They recommended that:

An increase in permit fees and general revenue appropriation, as well as an annual adjustment to account for inflation, was required to meet the demands of the program.

RISKS involved in an underfunded NDPES program

  • DNR, replaces $4.5 million in lost revenue with federal grants (319 grants) designated for investment in local community projects.
  • DNR, is unable to write grants, leading to delays for the businesses in Missouri.
  • EPA, de-delegates Missouri’s NPDES role in the Clean Water Act, and Business have to go to Kansas City for any business related to the Clean Water Act.

VOTE NO ON SB 413

Senate Bill 413, does reinstate DNR’s Water Permit Fee, it does so at levels that were insufficient in 2008. It also includes a potentially unconstitutional provision requiring a surety bond for anyone other than the permitted party that files an appeal.

SUPPORT HB 89

HB 89, reinstates the water permit fees at 2010 levels. It also provides protection for revenue fr the State Parks Earning Fund. While we strongly believe that DNR Water Permit Fees were inadequate in 2010. We support the State Park Earning Fund provision included in HB 89. It is a matter of fairness that the State Park Earning Fund does not have the interest earned diverted to other agencies nor that any additional revenue be transferred into the General Revenue Fund.

Success story of 319 Non-Point Source Pollution Program:

In 1998, the drinking water lakes of Cameron, Mark Twain, and Smithville was declared impaired water bodies. With help from 319 grants from the DNR they formed the Watershed Research, Assessment and Stewardship Project (WRASP). Using education and scientific study by 2003, the lakes were once again able to meet water quality standards and provide safe drinking water to the residence of the area.

Picture: The Missouri House Interim Committee on Water Quality visits a WRASP site.

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State Park Funding

Seventeen million visitors to Missouri state parks and historic sites generate over $700 million in economic activity for Missouri annually, including 7,660 jobs (2003 data).

Missouri's park system is only mid-sized among the states and below average in funding, yet it has ranked in the top five in the nation owing to the quality of its resources and management. That reputation is now in jeopardy.

Missouri state parks are facing a $200 million backlog in vitally needed infrastructure rehabilitation.

  • The last major infusion of infrastructure and CI (capital improvement) funds was 10% of the $600 million Third State Building Fund in the mid-1980s.
  • With the loss of general revenue for salaries in 1990 and increasing diversions and exemptions from the Parks and Soils Sales Tax (half of 1/10th of 1%), the system has been unable to keep up with critical infrastructure rehabilitation, hence the growing backlog.
  • The economic downturn has reduced Park Sales Tax revenue from $41 million in FY 2008 to $37.8 million in FY 2010, requiring the elimination of 120 staff positions (20% of total staff) in 2009.

Make State Park Funding a Priority

HJR 9, an $800 million Fifth State Building Fund bond issue with up to $250 million for state agencies other than higher education, was introduced by Rep. Chris Kelly in 2011and assigned to the House Committee on Higher Education. A similar measure in 2009 passed the House and reached the floor of the Senate.

We advocate an amendment to HJR 9 or to any measure for a new State Building Fund to specify that 10% of the total ($80-100 million) be designated for state parks.

  • Missouri has regularly used bonds to fund critical infrastructure for state facilities. The state’s AAA bond rating, current low construction costs, and the need for jobs make this an excellent time to invest in our future.
  • The bonding referendum would have to be approved by a vote of the citizenry; the 71% “yes” vote for the renewal of the PSST in 2006, is a major selling point for including state parks in HJR 9.

Chart: The Missouri State Parks funding need of over $200.

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Green Buildings

Green buildings- those designed, constructed, renovated or operated in an ecological and resource efficient manner.

Green Building have been proved to offer the following benefits:

  • Decreased operating costs
  • Increases the buildings value
  • Improves return on investment
  • Improve occupant productivity

An investment of 2% for a green building design, on average, results in a life cycle saving of 20% for the total construction costs- more than 10 times the initial investment.

Currently LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System initiatives can be found in 45 states and 442 localities.

VOTE YES on HB 267:
Sustainable Construction for State Funded Buildings

Requires all major state funded new construction project achieve a certain level of 3rd party verification of “sustainable construction.” In addition, it requires existing buildings to enroll in the Energy Star™ rating system and meet certain goals within five years Energy Star™ will allow building managers to easily monitor energy usage in their facilities and make improvements as necessary.

In Missouri alone there are nearly 120, public and privately owned buildings that are participating in the Energy Star™ Certified Buildings Program representing over 17 million square feet of office, industrial, educational, banking and retail space.

Picture: Missouri Hall at Columbia College, built in 1920 was certified LEED Silver and achieved LEED Silver in a revenue neutral manner.