Anti-Coal Activists Want City to Wake Up to "Peabody Takeover"

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When it comes to Peabody Energy Corp., it's hard to tell who's being naughty or nice.

This week, the activist group Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment has been staging demonstrations against Peabody, the largest private-sector coal company in the world, headquartered in downtown St. Louis.

Their first act of defiance against the energy giant was this banner off of the Kingshighway exit of I-64/40:

click to enlarge Anti-Coal Activists Want City to Wake Up to "Peabody Takeover"
Courtesy of Molly Gott and MORE

The banner drop on Tuesday kicked off MORE's "Post-Peabody St. Louis" week of action, a series of events that call attention to the environmental impact of the coal industry, St. Louis' increasingly high asthma rates, and a recent lawsuit that pits Peabody against retired miners who are claiming they were denied their due health coverage.

Arielle Klagsbrun, a community organizer with MORE, says the group is calling on St. Louis to "divest from big coal" and shed light on the company's "greenwashing".

click to enlarge A reminder on Peabody's homepage.
A reminder on Peabody's homepage.

"Peabody is trying to become what Monsanto is," Klagsbrun says. "They're making huge contributions around town -- buying the opera house, funding these research institutes at Wash. U.. All of that is great, very nice, but it's for PR, and it's for their own preservation in this community."

But Meg Gallagher, a Peabody Energy spokesperson, says the group's accusations are unfair and unfounded.

"We believe it's 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," Gallagher says.

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