More protests against Peabody Coal from students and frontline communities
April 10, 2014
Students at Washington University in St. Louis are in day three of a sit in to protest their Universitys relationship with Peabody Energy, the worlds largest private sector coal company. Caroline Burney, a Senior at Washington University, explains inWhy were sitting in at WashU (And were not leaving):
In St. Louis, Peabody ingratiates itself to the local community by posing as a benefactor of the arts, charitable corporate citizen, and hero tackling energy poverty. It all sounds pretty good until you realize that Peabody Energy is the worlds largest private sector coal corporation whose business model propagates climate change and destroys communities. Peabodys list of crimes is a veritable laundry list of social and environmental injustices: the destruction of mountains in West Virginia, the forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi Indian tribes in Black Mesa, Arizona, being a major supporter of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which have been strong advocates of controversial legislation like Stand Your Ground laws, the destruction of Rocky Branch, Illinois through aggressive mining and logging, and the distortion of democracy here in St. Louis by striking down a city-wide ballot initiative.
Peabodys size means that its coal mining impacts many different communities I touched on some of those inPeabody Energy: cheating workers and taxpayers to destroy our climate, focused mostly on Peabodys strip mines in Wyoming and coal export plans, as well as the companys efforts to cheat its former coal miners out of the health care they were promised. The Washington University students protest highlights other communities that also face disruption and pollution from Peabodys operations, including in Black Mesa, Arizona and Rocky Branch, Illinois. To learn more about those communities, check out this powerful video about efforts by theBlack Mesa Water Coalitionto protect groundwater from Peabodys mining operations, and collaboration with other communities and environmental justice leaders through theOur Power Campaign.
And the videobelow tells the story ofone of the women standing up to Peabodys coal mine expansion plans in Southern Illinois Jeff Biggers has chronicled the community organizing, blockades, and other efforts, socheck out his coverage to learn more.
Of course, the damage from Peabodys coal extractionextends well beyond the communities impacted directly by its mining operations; its among the 90 companies and government entitiesthat haveextracted the fossil fuels responsible for most of the greenhouse gasesthat are driving climate change. Worse, the company remains explicitly committed to extracting all thecoal it can, despite clear warnings from the International Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and morethat most fossil fuel reserves especially coal must be left in the ground.A Peabody executive eventold the New York Times:We have trillions of tons of coal resources in the world. You can expect the world to use them all given the science, thats a fairly explicitcondemnation of young people everywhere.