Speaking of Taum Sauk

DNR came out with its proposed settlement package for the Taum Sauk dam collapseBlack River News has more links on the story.

One of the settlement items was DNR’s proposal for Ameren to donate Church Mountain or the Rock Island Railroad corridor, the latter specifically to be converted into a bike/hike trail to potentially meet with the Katy Trail. I find this a little odd, considering the ongoing dispute between the state Attorney General and the DNR as regards the Boonville Bridge. In this incident, the outgoing DNR chief before Childers moved to preserve the Boonville Bridge as part of a historical landmark, as well as part of the Katy Trail. Childers and Blunt, instead, decided to give the bridge to the Union Pacific railroad, so it could use it as scrap steel.

This puts the Katy Trail in a vulnerable state, because the only way that the Rails-to-Trails program works in this country, is that the trails must intersect working railroad lines, so that they can be converted back to railroads, if necessary in the national interest. Removing the Boonville Bridge removes one of only two rail connections to the Katy Trail–the other of which, at St. Charles, is vulnerable to natural disaster.

However, if the Rock Island Railroad corridor is used as the final connection between Katy and Kansas City, extending the trail completely across the state, this might lessen the vulnerability of the trail overall, potentially removing one concern about giving the Boonville Bridge back to the Union Pacific.

As for the deal, Nixon, our State Attorney General, responded with:

While these projects put forth by DNR that are as far as 200 miles from Taum Sauk may be interesting and worthy, this wish list from bureaucrats at this time complicates matters and does not address adequate compensation for those who live and work closest to where the disaster occurred.

Nixon is not in these particular negotiations, as he was ‘fired’ as representative for the DNR because Childers felt Nixon was compromised since Ameren indirectly donated 19,000 dollars to his campaign fund; regardless of the fact that the money was returned to Ameren, and regardless of the fact that Ameren donated at least 17,000 dollars to the re-election campaign for Governor Blunt’s House of Representatives father, none other than the minority whip, Roy Blunt.

However, Nixon’s office hasn’t been all that forthcoming for what’s happening between it and DNR, though it has responded to Lee Farber at Black River News that it would post proposals for how to spend the five million (well, four million plus change) in fines levied by the federal government (which managed to wrangle for itself ten million dollars in fines, regardless of the fact that the agency who levied the fine, FERC, is the same agency whose inspectors had approved the safety of the dam just days before the dam broke).

In the meantime, no, work is not progressing in the cleanup, contrary to what the St. Louis Today article states.

Have I lost you yet? There’s wheels turning within wheels with this situation, and I’m concerned that the state is going to be paying a heavy price when it comes to our natural and civic resources because of the campaign for governor between Blunt and Nixon. We in Missouri are not being served.

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