In recent years, the West Lake Landfill in Bridgetown, Missouri has become a political hot potato. Groups from across the political spectrum have been lobbying to get the site cleaned up for decades.
One of these groups, Just Moms STL was founded by, Karen Nickel, Dawn Chapman, Beth Strohmeyer and Debi Disser in 2013 “to educate the community about the potential hazards and health risks surrounding the West Lake Landfill.” The group has hosted town hall meetings, amassed 18,000 members to its Facebook page, lobbied members of Congress and been described as "a surprisingly powerful force."
On the surface, it seems that their efforts have yielded dividends. West Lake Landfill, which was designated as a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1990, has been placed on the “National Priorities list” for clean up. Although subsequent studies have found the site poses no health risks, the EPA has decided to charge forward with cleaning the site, hiring a private firm in 2015 to clean up the landfill.
Yet despite an apparent victory, the work, which was scheduled to be finished by the end of this year, has been held up by legislative challenges and gridlock boosted in part by the lobbying efforts of Just Moms STL.
In February 2016, with the successful lobbying help of Just Moms STL, the Senate passed a bill to transfer the clean up to the Army Corps of Engineers. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced the legislation. Now the EPA’s unnecessary clean up of the Westlake Landfill has been delayed.
Why is Just Moms STL, lobbying for a delay on the project clean up? What is their interest in moving the clean up of the landfill from the EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers? If the group is so adamant the landfill get cleaned up, why would they care about who cleans it up?
The simple answer is money. Evidence suggests that Just Moms STL may be controlled, bought and directed by a sophisticated lobbying group called the Teamsters Union, whose members stand to gain a lot.
The Teamsters Union mentions Just Mom STL in numerous press releases and other communications materials on its website. Moreover, the Teamsters Union has hosted press conferences and educational events with Just Moms STL.
For years, the Teamsters have been freaking out about getting the West Lake landfill cleaned up. But instead of allowing the clean up plan to go forward, they’ve also objected and asked to have the cleanup transferred to the Army Corp of Engineers, resulting in a significant delay in starting the cleanup.
Why would the Teamsters want to delay the clean up by taking it out of the hands of the EPA?
If Congress passes a bill to move the cleanup to Army Corps of Engineers it would cost American taxpayers $400 million over and above the existing plan but also would create lots of higher wage public sector union worker jobs. About 20 percent of the 1.4 million Teamsters workers in America are employed by the federal government.
The Teamsters couldn’t wait to weigh in and show their support for wasting taxpayer money on make-work jobs for union workers.
"Workplaces should not be a threat to workers, nor the workers and families living around them,” said Chuck Stiles, Assistant Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division.
Evidently, non-union work projects are a toxic threat to the Teamsters.
Of course, approval requires action in the House before it can become law. Now, the bill is sitting in the House where supporters with ties to big labor unions are pushing to get it passed without scrutiny. House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership need to hold hearings on this crony politics effort to fleece taxpayers and create public sector union jobs for Teamsters members.
It is curious that a group claiming to be concerned about our children is ignoring concerns about saddling their kids with unnecessary debt just so Teamsters members can get big bonuses.
Shifting the clean up of the Westlake Landfill from EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers is not the answer. It would delay the project another 25 years, fleece the taxpayers and only benefit the Teamsters. Congress should kill this bill immediately, and if they insist on pushing this unnecessary clean up forward, let the EPA get on with their work.
Crystal Wright is author of the newly released book "Con Job: How Democrats Gave Us Crime, Sanctuary Cities, Abortion Profiteering, and Racial Division" and editor of ConservativeBlackChick.com.