Environment Missouri Research & Policy Center's new report shows that St. Louis now ranks as the 7th smoggiest large metropolitan area in the country. Ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, is one of the most harmful and one of the most pervasive air pollutants. Exposure to smog pollution can exacerbate respiratory illness and even cause premature death. Sensitive populations including children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illness are particularly at risk of the adverse health effects of air pollution. Though air quality has improved significantly in the last decade as a result of policies at the state and federal level, there is still much to be done, as there are millions of people living in metropolitan areas around the country exposed to multiple days each summer when the air is unhealthy to breathe. This report ranks metropolitan areas for their unhealthy air days in 2010 and 2011. This report also presents data indicating that the problem may have been even worse than we thought. Because the national health standard for smog pollution set in 2008 was set at a level that scientists agree is not protective of public health, people across the country have been exposed to days of poor air quality each summer without even knowing it.
While the ghosts and ghouls of Halloween costumes disappear after October 31st, the very real and very scary problems facing the Missouri River are not going anywhere. Agricultural runoff, irresponsible development, and industrial waste are all contributing to a river that is filled with toxic chemicals.
Even as more people are visiting our national parks, like the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, operating budgets for the majority of national parks are at risk of being cut. Nearly three-quarters of parks that saw an increase in visitorship last year face a budget cut in the next fiscal year. As America’s greatest places are becoming more popular destinations, now is the time to ensure that national parks have the resources they need to sustain valuable visitor programs and services, maintain the quality of park facilities, ensure safety and promote park stewardship. Proposed budget cuts for the coming year will only add to the National Parks Service budget shortfalls, created by years of underfunding.
For decades, the Clean Water Act protected the Nation’s surface water bodies from unregulated pollution and rescued them from the crisis status they were in during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now these vital protections are being lost. This report details the threat to our Nation’s waters by examining dozens of case studies, and highlights the urgent need for Congress to restore full Clean Water Act protections to our waters.
If Missouri wants to save the special places that remain within her borders, our lawmakers need to redouble their efforts—and quickly. Fortunately, the examples set by existing state land preservation programs hold important lessons for states as they seek to protect their most treasured natural areas. This report profiles the experiences of preservation programs in 15 states as they have striven for consistent and adequate funding for open space protection.