At 11 am, Friday, Jan. 25, members of Veterans For Peace (VFP), headquartered in St. Louis, and other organizations will gather in Kiener Plaza, across from the headquarters of Peabody Energy Corp. to demand that the company:
Stop all forms of strip mining, including mountaintop removal, a practice it claims to have ended, but which continues with spinoff coal companies like Patriot.
Stop polluting the watershed and air and stop coal extraction in favor of renewable energy sources.
Return millions in tax breaks to the city of St. Louis. In 2010, Peabody Coal, the largest coal-mining company in the world, received a $61 million tax break from the St. Louis Development Corporation, including $2 million from the St. Louis public schools.
Veterans for Peace joins with MORE (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment), RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival) and Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) in making these demands.
They are presenting these demands because of concerns such as:
- Peabody Western Coal Co., a subsidiary of Peabody Energy Corp., has strip-mined Black Mesa, which overlaps Navajo and Hopi lands in the Four Corners area of the Southwest, since 1968. Each year more than one billion gallons of groundwater is removed from the Black Mesa aquifer to make the toxic coal slurry needed to move the coal through a long-distance pipeline.
- Every day in West Virginia 3 million pounds of high explosives are detonated to remove mountaintops that cover coal seams. Over the course of a year that adds up to 27 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Mountains, valleys, streams and the lives of people and wildlife are forever changed and in many cases, destroyed. Peabody, which claims to have stopped MTR, has non-the-less done incalculable damage, while other coal companies like Arch Coal and Patriot Coal (a spin off of Peabody) both headquartered in St. Louis, still use the process.
- According to a report by Physicians for Social Responsibility and backed by other groups, pollution from burning coal kills tens of thousands of people each year due to asthma, chronic pulmonary obstruction, emphysema, heart attack, stroke and cancer. http://www.psr.org/assets/
- The National Academy of Sciences concluded that coal-fired plants and overall damages from coal cost U. S. taxpayers an estimated $62 billion in environmental and health outlays in 2005 http://dels.nas.edu/Report/
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VFP national board member Tarak Kauff explained, “There's a battle going on between huge fossil fuel corporations like Peabody Energy Corp. and a growing public interest grassroots movement. In the end this conflict may matter more than those in Viet Nam, Iraq or Afghanistan because the outcome may determine whether life as we know it will continue on this planet. Members of VFP, many who have experienced directly the horrors of war, realize that the war on Mother Earth  is potentially the most dangerous war of all. We are more than veterans of war, we are veterans for peace. Real peace is more than just the absence of war. Peace means justice, in this case environmental justice. Raping, polluting and destroying the environment is not justice.”
Paul Appell, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, farmer and VFP member, added, "After working the land full time for nearly half a century, I know that one reaps what one sows. In Vietnam I learned that when one sows violence, one reaps blood. As one who has daily witnessed strip-mining here in Knox County, Illinois, for 50-plus years and farmed strip-mined ground for 35, I have experienced the war on Mother Nature. As I stand in solidarity with my fellow citizens protesting Peabody Energy Corporation’s coal removal methods, it is with intimate, firsthand knowledge that violence begets more violence."