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Local Activists Take Aim At Peabody Energy

Tim Lloyd
St. Louis Public Radio

Local activist groups say they’re planning several protests this week against Peabody Energy.

This morning activists hung a banner on a Peabody Energy and United Way billboard that read, “Dirty Coal = Dirty Money.”   

Later in the day, activists joined student groups to protest at Washington University, saying the school had too cozy of a relationship with Peabody.  In a statement, Washington University says it respects students’ right to express their opinions.   

Arielle Klagsbrun is with Missourians Organize for Reform Empowerment and is helping put together this week’s demonstrations.

“Coal is dying in the United States, their third quarter profits were just released and they’re down 84-percent,” Klagsbrun says.  “They’re trying to ship coal to China, the most dangerous thing we could do is ship coal overseas where it's going to be burned more and more.”

Klagsbrun says the negative environmental impact of CO2 produced from burning Peabody coal out weights the company’s philanthropic efforts. 

“You know, it’s not enough for Peabody to put its name on the opera house or chair the United Way campaign,” Klagsbrun says. “Because, it’s going to be my generation and the generations that come after me that are going to be dealing with this mess that’s Peabody’s making.”

She says later this week activist will take aim at other institutions that receive money from Peabody Coal, including the St. Louis Zoo and the University of Missouri St. Louis. 

Peabody Energy released this statement in reaction to the protests:

"It is offensive for any activist group to deface property or suggest that major local institutions are beholden to the thousands of individuals and businesses donating to them.  Peabody Energy gave more than $5 million in philanthropic contributions in and around the St. Louis region in 2011 with no strings attached. Our employees gave their time, talent and treasure to myriad nonprofit organizations. Peabody Energy is invested in making St. Louis a better place to live, because improving quality of life is core to what we do. We are proud to offer real solutions for our energy needs. Coal is clean… abundant… affordable… and uniquely American. Missouri gets 80% of its energy from coal, so we pay a fraction of the energy costs of other states. Emissions from coal have been dramatically reduced, even as American coal use has tripled in the past four decades.  And Peabody is a global leader in sustainable mining and clean coal technology. We are proud to continue to call downtown St. Louis home.  And we are proud to provide thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in taxes and royalties to support improved schools, services and lifestyles around the world."  

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