Peabody Coal Taken to Task for Making Children Sick
On May 10, 2011, around forty people gathered at the headquarters of the Peabody
corporation in downtown St. Louis with a clear message for the company - stop making
our children sick with your coal.
The action was spearheaded by Sierra Student
Coalition Midwest Regional Organizer Lindsey Berger. It was timed to
correspond with the EPA's designation of May as
Asthma awareness month and
designed to point out the links between coal and health problems.
There is a clear link between pollution from coal plants and asthma. Asthma is
the number one reason that children miss school due to illness in the United States
of America. Coal pollution causes over $100 billion in health care costs each
year, including over 12,000 visits to the emergency room.
The average age of a coal-fired power plant in this country is 44 years old -
they are allowed to operate without modern polution controls such as scrubbers
and filters. The EPA has a plan to update the Clean Air Act with new health
standards, and the coal industry has been pushing back, lobbying the EPA to
delay while children are suffering. Peabody alone spent $6.5 million last year
lobbying against increased health standards on coal emissions.
The action included speeches by participants. Lindsey Berger that stressed the
link between asthma and coal. Adam Hasz pointed out that Peabody CEO Greg Boyce
is on the board of trustees, thus compromising the integrity of the university.
Patricia Schuba told about the problems the people of Labadie are facing due to
their proximity to Missouri's largest coal fired power plant and a plan by
Ameren UE to create a giant coal ash pit on the banks of the Missouri River.
All the speeches stressed that we need to replace coal with cleaner sources of
power like wind and solar, both for our immediate health and to stop the growing
problem of climate change.
After the speeches the participants coughed and coughed until they fell to
the ground on the sidewalk and pretended to die from the pollution that Peabody
coal produces. Someone outlined the bodies in chalk and then wrote messages in
the chalked body outlines.
Very shortly after most participants went across the street, Peabody coal sent
two men, escorted by two St. Louis City police officers, to scrub the chalk
The action took place on the same day that Peabody appeared to launch its
website Coal Cares. This website
claimed that Peabody would give free asthma inhalers to children living within
200 miles of a coal fired power plant. The website is actually a spoof put out
by the group Coal Is Killing Kids.
But as wired
magazine points out, the website is backed by science. Meanwhile, Peabody
put out a retraction, letting us know that it really isn't all that concerned
about the effect of its product on the lungs of children.