I am writing to respond to a letter by Kathy Casey that was published on July 19. Ms. Casey claims that I have ignored citizens' concerns about the concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) near Eagle Rock. However, this is far from the truth.
I would like to explain the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' authority in these decisions. Missouri's Clean Water Law clearly defines the department's mission to water quality: protect and preserve the waters of the state. We make every effort to balance the desires of the public while being responsive to the needs of the regulated community as well. However, the statutory authority given to the department by the legislature only allows us to ensure the permit application complies with Missouri Clean Water Law and that the operation will protect water quality.
When making a decision on the permit application for this facility, the Department of Natural Resources reviewed all public comments received before issuing the permit. We do not have jurisdiction to address questions of zoning, location, property values, tourism or other items not related to water quality. If the permit application meets all regulatory requirements and demonstrates that the operation will protect water quality, the department is obligated by law to issue the permit.
It is important for communities to be aware of the environmental issues in their area and become active in those discussions and decisions. The department appreciates citizen participation in its permitting and other processes, which assists us in carrying out our legal responsibilities for the environment.
Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Jefferson City, Missouri