This article is presented in partnership with Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Fifty years ago, Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) began its work in 1969 in St. Louis as the region’s first independent, grassroots citizens’ group, created to address a broad range of environmental policy issues. Before there was an EPA or Department of Natural Resources, before there was an Earth Day, recycling bins, or clean water permits, there was the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, fighting to keep our environment and the people of Missouri safe and thriving.

Fifty years ago, MCE began this work and 50 years later that effort has led to the tools, policies, and laws that form the backbone of environmental protection in our state. From tackling air pollution and pesticide spraying to advocating for the clean-up of radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill and stronger standards for lead in the air, and from defending healthy food access to clean energy and open space for all Missourians–Missouri’s environment is cleaner and her people healthier because of the work of MCE.

MCE litigated when necessary and they stood their ground. Reflecting on the influence of MCE at the state level, former Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and current MCE Board member, Steve Mahfood, said, “MCE’s watchful presence was a constant we considered in our decision making … We counted on MCE to support policies which protected Missouri’s environment and the health and safety of our communities.”

Staff at Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Today, MCE continues to stand up to pollutive industries that threaten natural ecosystems and jeopardize public health. They also help environmentally-responsible farmers thrive, organizing community-led food justice programs and scrutinizing industrial agriculture projects throughout the state. They are protecting Missouri’s precious remaining floodplains and wetlands, and pushing for more rigorous water quality standards.

MCE recognizes that people of color are disproportionately affected by public health and environmental threats, and lack equal access to many of Missouri’s natural resources. They are actively engaged in identifying, understanding, and dismantling systemic racism and implicit bias in government systems, their organization, and the environmental community. MCE is committed to becoming a more inclusive, diverse organization, and building a more equitable environmental movement throughout the state of Missouri.

In 2019, MCE is celebrating these 50 years of educating, organizing, and advocating for Missouri’s people and environment. They celebrate the dedication and passion of their founders fifty years ago and the power of those who support this work all across our state today. They cherish their legacy and honor their history by continuing to courageously protect Missouri’s natural resources for the benefit of all and ensuring that every Missourian has the tools to hold government and polluters accountable while promoting equitable and effective protection of our natural resources.

Learn more about MCE’s programs and how you can take action at