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Opinion: Environment Missouri looks forward to the 2022 legislative session in Jefferson City

With Missouri’s 2022 legislative session beginning, Environment Missouri, a citizen-based statewide environmental advocacy organization, is already looking forward to working alongside our many coalition partners, state legislators, and supporters to protect our state’s clean air, clean water, and public spaces. Some of our main environmental priorities for this legislative session are: securing the right to repair our electronics and farming equipment; getting lead out of our schools’ drinking water; and protecting our state’s caves and threatened bat species.

Bridget Sanderson

First, the right to repair aims to take on big companies that push us to buy more stuff and throw it away instead of fixing it. We already use and throw away too much stuff, but the companies that make electronic equipment actively make it difficult to repair things, so we end up throwing away even more. Many manufacturers make repairs proprietary, with the manufacturing company maintaining total control of the repair process. When the manufacturer is the only option for repair, they can drive up the costs or push consumers to buy new, unnecessary products. To cut waste, we need to empower more repairs. Rep. Emily Weber has introduced a bill to do just that.

Beyond consumers, farmers are also struggling to repair newer tractors and other modern electronic equipment. Manufacturers install digital locks on equipment that blocks anyone but the dealership technicians from performing repairs. We have been working alongside Rep. Barry Hovis to support farmers who provide our food with more repair options across the state.

Getting lead out of drinking water is important because there is no safe level of lead for children. Alongside Rep. Paula Brown, Environment Missouri is pushing for clean drinking water in Missouri’s schools. Our children need clean, safe drinking water — especially where they go to learn and play each day. Unfortunately, lead is contaminating drinking water at school, pre-schools, and child care facilities. The problem stems from pipes, plumbing, faucets, and fixtures that contain lead. To keep children safe and healthy, the state must get the lead out of the drinking water at schools across Missouri by using state and federal funding that already exists.

Finally, Environment Missouri believes that we need to protect the lands and ecosystems that define our state. Known as the “Cave State,” Missouri has more than 7,300 recorded caves. Our beautiful cave system houses an important pollinator and pest controller: the bat. Unfortunately, despite their importance to a healthy ecosystem, bats have too often received a bad rap. Missouri’s bats are insectivores, eating many pesky bugs such as mosquitoes and crickets. Bats can eat an impressive 1,000 pests per hour, helping to protect humans from disease-carrying bugs, and improving agricultural yields.

Bat populations have been dwindling in North America due to climate change, habitat loss, and endemic diseases such as White Nose Syndrome. In fact, eight of Missouri’s 14 bat species are listed on the Missouri Species of Conservation Concern.

It is time to prioritize the Cave State’s bat population and their natural habitat. Environment Missouri supports additional funding directed to the protection and conservation of our caves and to assist the entities currently protecting our bat populations.

We work hard to protect our home and neighbors in Missouri. During the 2022 legislative session, we hope you join us to push for new laws that protect our right to repair, clean drinking water in our schools, and healthy habitats for our state’s favorite nocturnal pest-killer. 

This piece originally appeared in the Jan. 9, 2022 edition of The Missouri Times newspaper.