About 100 people gathered outside of Washington University St.-Louis’ Brookings Hall in protest of the school’s ties with St. Louis-based Peabody Energy.
The demonstrators called for the university to no longer allow the energy company to sponsor its Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization. They also was Greg Boyce, CEO of Peabody, to leave Wash U’s Board of Trustees.
In a statement, a Peabody spokeswoman said the company “is proud to support Washington University in St. Louis and its leadership in education, as well as in clean coal research.”
A growing number of student groups nationwide are calling for their schools to divest ownership in coal companies as public sentiment against the industry grows.
Locally, Peabody especially has been targeted. The gathering Wednesday was partially organized by Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, or MORE, which has taken aim at the company before.
The group led the effort to collect signatures for a ballot issue that would prohibit companies that engage in “unsustainable” energy production from receiving St. Louis tax incentives. The measure would have been put to city voters on Tuesday but was knocked off the April ballot by Judge Robert Dierker in response to a lawsuit brought by three city residents who challenged the measure’s constitutionality.
Coal is America’s most widely used fuel to produce power. It generated 39 percent of the U.S. electricity supply. The students plan to maintain a presence on campus in order to raise more awareness about the issue.
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