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Robert Friedman’s Blog

Students to WashU: Cut Ties With Peabody

Robert Friedman

Posted April 21, 2014 in Environmental Justice, Solving Global Warming

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The climate is changing, and with each and every passing day, more communities are experiencing the devastation of fossil fuel extraction. What’s it going to take to get us on track to a more sustainable future? Limits on carbon emissions, for sure. But there’s a lot more that’s needed. The drivers of climate injustice have names, emails and phone numbers, and they need to be held directly accountable for their role in perpetuating this crisis.  

That’s just what folks at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri are doing at this very moment. For over 13 days, students from WashU Students Against Peabody have engaged in a sustained sit-in protesting Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company’s relationship with their university.

Students Against Peabody is demanding that:

  • WashU immediately cut its ties with Peabody’s CEO and Wash U trustee, Greg Boyce, who has been referred to as the “Dark Lord of Coal Country;”

  • University Chancellor Mark Wrighton visit frontline communities where Peabody has mines and release a statement about his experience;

  • Remove the term “clean coal,” from the title of the Consortium of Clean Coal Utilization, which is run in partnership with Peabody; and

  • Give student representatives to the board of trustees voting power so as to influence the selection of new trustees.

These demands are being made on the grounds that the climate injustice that Peabody inflicts on communities and on the planet does not align with WashU's mission. While climate change is sometimes hard to visualize, the devastating impacts of fossil fuel extraction that is occurring in communities like Rocky Branch, Illinois and Black Mesa, Arizona is painfully real.

The campaign at WashU is quickly picking up momentum. Just this past Saturday, 400 students, professors and community activists gathered to raise the volume against Peabody. These students are bravely shining a light on an injustice that exists across the world, where fossil fuel companies have embedded themselves in the goings-on of institutions of higher education and social good. 

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Stand with WashU students as they escalate their campaign by signing their solidarity petition. It’s time for WashU to cut ties with Peabody once and for all.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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