Among his first actions as the new chief executive of Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt took a scalpel to the state’s environmental regulation agency.
Blunt fired eight officials at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and promised that others would follow, prompting speculation that the entire agency would be reshaped as part of the governor’s promise to make Missouri more "business-friendly." Blunt has said that he has no plans to eliminate the DNR, but the state of environmental regulation in Missouri is likely to change with Republicans now in control of both the Legislature and the governor’s office for the first time in more than 80 years.
Responding to questions from the St Louis Post-Dispatch, a spokesman for the governor’s office said Blunt is still drafting his legislative package. "The governor will take an even-handed approach to regulation . . . and a fair implementation of environmental laws will be emphasized," spokesman Spence Jackson said. "He is committed to work towards achieving a proper balance between advancing economic opportunities, preserving property rights and protecting the environment."
Business groups are eager for opportunities Blunt may provide to tame what they see as a thicket of environmental rules. Another measure frequently proposed in the past decade would require Missouri’s environmental laws to be "no stricter than" federal laws. The state already has a similar restriction on its air pollution rules.