Conservation Lobby Day 2008 was a huge success! Between 100 and 150 conservation minded lobbyists "stormed the castle" at the State Capitol Building in Jefferson City. Key legislators were inundated by our groups. We focused on Streams, Green Building, Renewable Energy, and CAFO's, and other environmental issues as well. Our voices were, indeed, heard loudly and in force.
I was assigned to the Green Building group, where we advocated for high performing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification on all new state and local government and public buildings in Missouri. O ur best option in regard to this seemed to be SB100, LEED for Public Building, sponsored by Sen. Joan Bray of St. Louis. The bill reads:
"LEED for Public Buildings requires a state or local government guilding that is constructed or substantially renovated to be U.S. Green Building council LEED certified. Allows exclusions from standards when the cost of compliance exceeds the expected energy savings."
I spoke to several legislators, including Sen. Tim Green, Rep. Mott Oxford, and Rep. Sara Lampe. All of these Democrats were eager to join our forces and to relish in our support for their legislative efforts in environmental reform.
My favorite was Sara Lampe, who was a great professor and friend when I was working on my Master's degree at Drury University. Her uncompromised support for education, the elderly, the uninsured, and the environment are unmatched by her Southwest Missouri colleagues. My own Rep. Ray Weter mentioned that she comes on a little too strong in her advocacies, but that's just the way I like it. She legislates with the same passion with which she teaches, and remains a steadfast supporter and trailblazer in the field of Gifted Education. As a legislator, her positive impact upon Southwest Missouri continues to grow and the ripples are changing the landscape in the entire state of Missouri. We need more Sara Lampes!
In stark contrast is my State Senator, Dan Clemens. I've written him a number of times on issues of education, the environment, and conceal and carry legislation. I have never received a personal reply. It was no surprise then that he was not available when I reached his office. It's frustrating to have a Senator in Jefferson City that does little to improve the quality of life in our portion of the state. He is simply a rubber stamp Republican, with little work ethic and no regard for the welfare of the common Missourians that he serves.
Clemens' fellow Republican Ray Weter is my State Representative. Ray is a kind man and a strong supporter of public education. In this area, he finds himself at odds with the powers that be in his own party. He is a good listener, and votes his conscience. Even though we differ on way more political issues than we agree upon, I always feel appreciated as a concerned citizen after I talk to him. He is concerned about wars caused by fossil fuel addiction. To him, this justifies the subsidized ethanol industry in America and probably drilling in ANWR. To me, it justifies increased funding for R & D in sustainable alternative energy.
Why is it that the Republicans spout ideology that "the free market forces should dictate the viability of the product" , yet they subsidize ethanol plant developers Archer, Daniels, Midland and agribusiness oriented corn growers to the tune of billions of dollars? How obvious can it be that Republican policies are protecting the greedy, squandering our future, and continuously relying upon fear to coerce people, who mindlessly embrace their flawed ideology?
But, I sense that the ripples of change are spreading throughout this great country. That is the feeling that I strongly detected while walking the halls of that building in Jefferson City. Last year the state legislature began to turn, and we successfully defended our state against CAFOs gone wild. This year there is reason to believe that our proactive, progressive, legislative efforts may begin to take hold in both our state and nation. Yes, the smog that has engulfed our country for the past eight years is lifting, and I am beginning to breathe clean air again.
Join us in taking back our country in 2008!