Saturday, January 14, 2006

Moark attorney/former DNR director defends top polluters

"We do not believe the public or the environment is well served if a citizen living downwind of a dirty smokestack is barred from inquiring about what she is breathing."
That quote, taken from a March 13, 1995, St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, is attributed to David Shorr, who at that time was Governor Mel Carnahan's choice to run the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
In the 11 years that have passed since he made that statement, either Shorr has changed his mind or he prefers the smell of poultry to the stench given off by dirty smokestacks.
Shorr, as reported recently in The Joplin Globe and in other media outlets, will represent Moark as it defends itself against an odor violation issued by the DNR. This is nothing new for Shorr, who now is an attorney with Lathrop & Gage, operating out of Jefferson City. He has parlayed his term as the man who was designated to protect Missourians from environmental violators into a lucrative career defending some of the worst of those violators.
Moark is not the first poultry operation to be represented by the polluters' top hired gun. In May 2000, according to DNR documents, Shorr defended Meek Poultry, which operated an egg-laying complex with 810,000 hens, which produced approximately 14,200 tons of manure per year. The state fined the company $27,000 for failing to get a permit to operate the facility and failing to provide an odor control plan.
A Sierra Club news release from Jan. 28, 2000, shows Shorr serving as the attorney for corporate hog farmer Murphy Family Farms when the environmental organization sued the company for a host of violations, including "slumping and overflowing lagoons, over-application of swine wastes, manure spills, failure to obtain proper operating permits, and polluted runoff into streams and onto neighboring properties."
When Shorr defended Kraft Foods in May 2000, he acknowledged the company had dumped several thousand tons of used hot dog casings over a five-year period on a farm in Boone County, according to an article in the Jefferson City News-Tribune.
Shorr argued that Missouri laws did not apply to the situation. Assistant Attorney General Suzanne Flanegin disagreed, noting, "They were contaminated. They were garbage. They were simply dumped into a ravine on that property."
Kraft ended up paying $300,000 to the Boone County School Fund to settle the case in 2001.
In addition to representing companies charged with violating environmental regulations, Shorr is one of the legions of former state officials who are now registered lobbyists.
Missouri Ethics Commission records show Shorr currently is registered to represent Continental Coal, Inc., Overland Park, Kan.; American Cleaners & Laundry Co. Inc., Manchester; Clarence Cannon Wholesale Water Commission, Stoutsville; Little Blue Valley Sewer District, Independence; Missouri Public Utility Alliance, Columbia; Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc., Owensboro, Ky.; and University of Missouri-Columbia.
In the past, he has been a registered lobbyist for Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill., Meek Poultry, Maquoketa, Iowa; BP Amoco Corporation, Warrenville, Ill.; Duke Energy North America, Houston, Texas; and Infiltrator Systems, Old Saybrook, Conn.

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