Michael Berg
Sept. 14, 2011

Missourians Maintain Control of Billboards
Sierra Club Helps Sustain Gov. Nixon's Veto of HB 430

In June, the Missouri Sierra Club asked Governor Jay Nixon to veto House Bill 430. We applaud the governor for listening to us and vetoing the bill. This legislation would have given excessive power to the billboard industry at the expense of Missourians.

But the victory was still not complete as the veto still faced the threat of a legislative override.

On September 14, thanks to the efforts of Missouri Sierra Club members the Missouri State House declined to vote on overriding Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of House Bill 430. That means that we won!

If the veto had been overridden, our state would have paid a heavy environmental price, including:

* more and larger billboards across the state.

* more electric billboards, which use as much power as 30 homes.

* more visual pollution obscuring our beautiful state.

Thanks to 336 Sierra Club members who sent emails to their state representative, and the hard work of dedicated Sierra Club activists, we were able to defeat the billboard lobby and win a victory for environmental sanity.

This result proves the power of grassroots action, and what Sierra Club members can do when we mobilize statewide.

Please take a quick moment to thank Governor Nixon for vetoing HB 430.

Below is the letter from Missouri Sierra Club Director John Hickey sent early this summer to Governor Jay Nixon Regarding House Bill 430.

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The Honorable Jay Nixon
P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102

June 22, 2011

Dear Governor Nixon,

The Sierra Club (Missouri Chapter) is writing to ask you to veto HB 430 because of the harmful billboard language that was added to the bill at the very end of the legislative session. The Club is deeply concerned that the legislation will further erode Missouri’s natural beauty and limit the ability of local communities to preserve their character by prohibiting billboards.

The current state billboard law, while not perfect, has stopped the unchecked billboard proliferation that ruined our roadside character over the course of the 1980s and 1990s. Improvements to the minimum spacing requirements enacted in 2002 have been particularly beneficial to the state. Billboards that are closer than 1,400’ from another one are allowed to remain, but they cannot be converted to new technology or relocated to another spot. Unfortunately, HB 430 would undo these protections that strike a balance between allowing billboards and protecting the true character of a scenic and beautiful Missouri.

The weakening of the 2002 law would add an even more intrusive and damaging form of pollution to Missouri’s landscapes through the proliferation of digital billboards. In addition to increasing driver distraction, these new billboards have substantial negative environmental impacts compared to traditional signs: they consume a tremendous amount of energy (using as much as 30 times as the average household) and substantially increase light pollution.

And finally, local communities must remain free to prohibit new billboards if they wish. Attractive communities attract residents and businesses, and hundreds of communities across the nation have found that one of the easiest ways to promote beauty and preserve character is simply to not allow more billboards than what they already may have.

Please don’t let Missouri’s communities and rural landscapes be assaulted by a weakened billboard law. We urge you to veto a seriously flawed and damaging HB 430.

Sincerely,
John Hickey
Chapter Director