Newsflash:
Dr. Syed Taj Stop Global Warming Why the Great Wash U Sit-in Against Peabody Coal Matters: Which Side Are You on?
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 22:03

Why the Great Wash U Sit-in Against Peabody Coal Matters: Which Side Are You on?

Written by  Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post
National Guard outside of Peabody mine, during Progressive Miners of America strike, Kincaid, IL, 1932. National Guard outside of Peabody mine, during Progressive Miners of America strike, Kincaid, IL, 1932. Courtesy of Greg Boozell

Entering its second week, the inspiring Washington University sit-in against Peabody Energy has already gone beyond its goals to cut school ties with the St. Louis-based coal giant, and forced the rest of the nation to ask themselves an urgent question in an age of climate change and reckless strip mining ruin: Which side are you on?

Will other schools, alumni groups -- and investors in Peabody Energy -- follow the lead of the Washington U. students?

Case in point: Tonight in my native Saline County in southern Illinois, the county commissioners genuflected to short-term Peabody coal dollars over the "negative impact on about a dozen homeowners who live near the site of the proposed mine," according to one cynical commissioner, and voted to allow the company to close off Rocky Branch road for a proposed strip mine expansion, despite the lack of EPA permits, and documented evidence of flooding, blasting and emergency access problems.

Facing financial ruin, grave heath problems and displacement, the Rocky Branch residents will fight on, thanks to the Wash U. students, and continue to tell the truth: We all live in the coalfields now, in this age of climate change, and it is no longer acceptable to allow anyone to be collateral damage to a disastrous energy policy.

As Rolling Stone recently noted, Peabody CEO Greg Boyce just might be one of the biggest obstacles to meaningful climate change action in the world.

And the historic legacy of those obstacles -- from the heartland to the far reaches of Asia -- should make Washington University end its shameless relationship with Boyce and Peabody immediately.

My family and communities in southern Illinois have literally been fighting the plunder of our communities, farms, forests and coal mining laborers by Peabody coal, along with various other out-of-state companies, since Mr. Francis Peabody himself sank his first historic mine in our parts in 1895.

When Wash U. students joined retired coal miners at Peabody headquarters last year, to reclaim promised health benefits lost in a bankruptcy scheme -- one southern Illinois miner died in 2012 in Peabody's violation-ridden mines -- we were reminded that our coal mining family members even had to pitch a veritable war against Peabody and its sycophants for a living wage, workplace safety and civil rights back in the 1930s, and earlier decades.   

But southern Illinois, despite its historic role in coal mining, has hardly cornered the market on suffering -- especially when it comes to Peabody coal plunder.

In the 1950s, when Peabody collapsed due to market pressures, and relocated its famous brand name to St. Louis under Sinclair Coal Company control, it began one of the most shameful chapters in American history by manipulating the relocation of thousands of Hopi and Navajos on Black Mesa in Arizona and carried out decades of strip mining ruin and water contamination.

In the meantime, Peabody also shifted its massive strip mining operations to central Appalachia, made famous by John Prine's "Paradise" ballad about the loss of his family's community in western Kentucky. "Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away," go the chilling lyrics.

Today, recording over $7 billion in revenues, Peabody has taken its devastating plunder worldwide.

Peabody now operates the largest strip mine in the eastern states, in a controversial operation in Indiana.

With an eye to the spiraling and poorly regulated Asian market, Peabody is expanding its operations in Mongolia.

Despite the magnitude of climate change and the loss of Indonesia's forests and carbon sink for the world, Peabody is expanding operations in that country.

In Australia, Peabody coal miners have launched recent strikes, while religious, farm and environmental groups have called out its reckless mine expansion and lack of a moral compass.

Back in the Midwest, over 217 communities are outraged by their soaring electricity rates from a Peabody boondoggle Prairie state coal-fired plant.

How much longer should educational institutions and other civil rights-minded investors enable the Peabody mine disasters?

That's the big question the Washington University students have asked their administration -- and the rest of the nation.

And that is the big question we must all answer.

Meanwhile, for more information on the Rocky Branch strip mine showdown in southern Illinois, see:

Judy's Rock: More Road Blocks of Peabody's Dead End

Mr. Peabody's Coal Train Ain't Haulin' Away Rocky Branch

Residents Stand Up to Peabody Coal at Historic EPA Hearing

Illinois Strip Mine Showdown is Last Best Hope for Coalfield Justice 

Read 6452 times

Latest News from the Taj Campaign

  • Learned about Taj (letter to the editor)
    Learned about Taj (letter to the editor)

    I was anxious to attend the League of Women Voters Candidate Night because like so many other people in the new 11th District, I knew little about either of the major party candidates. I sat with more than 100 other voters and waited for Kerry Bentivolio to arrive.

    Written on Thursday, 01 November 2012 22:15 Read more...
  • Blue America Preview: Dr. Syed Taj
    Blue America Preview: Dr. Syed Taj

    With the open seat, Dr. Taj has a more than favorable chance to win. His opponent is Kerry Bentivolio, reindeer rancher, failed business owner and part-time actor who has never held elected office. He has strong ties to libertarian financiers and Tea Party activists but has been ostracized by the Republican Party establishment, having taken large donations from Liberty for All Super PAC, affiliated with Ron Paul.

    Written on Sunday, 21 October 2012 12:48 Read more...
  • Syed Taj: Democrat hopes voters will put a doctor in the House
    Syed Taj: Democrat hopes voters will put a doctor in the House

    He may be a Democrat in a largely Republican town, but don't tell that to Canton voters.

    Dr. Syed Taj finished fourth out of six candidates in 2008 to win a seat on Canton's Board of Trustees -- the first Democrat elected to the board in recent memory and the only Democrat on the seven-member board.

    Written on Monday, 15 October 2012 19:17 Read more...
  • Interview with Mark Maynard
    Interview with Mark Maynard

    We also talk economics and tax policy. We can’t just continue to cut our way to prosperity, Taj says. We continue to fire public employees, he says, and that not only impacts quality of life, but it negatively impacts consumer spending.

    Written on Sunday, 14 October 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Syed Taj Says He's "on the radar"
    Syed Taj Says He's "on the radar"

    The sudden resignation of Rep. Thad McCotter led to a tumultuous Republican primary in Michigan's 11th District, but the fallout may also mean a competitive general election for a seat thought until recently to be safely in the GOP column. At least, that's what Syed Taj is counting on.

    Written on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 00:00 Read more...

PDA In Your State

Sign the ERA Petition

ERADemandButton

On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)

Button-SignERAPetition

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

MI Endorsed Candidate

Dr.TajSmall 

MI-11 Dr. Syed Taj
http://www.tajforcongress.com

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of