Groups Call on Peabody to End its Coal Business

Posted by TLB staff

Amid Likely Bankruptcy, an Opportunity to Protect the Climate and Communities

by WildEarth Guardians

Denver—A coalition today called on Peabody Energy’s President and CEO to take meaningful steps to protect the American public, the climate, public lands, and workers, and wind down its business as the company faces bankruptcy.

“The writing’s on the wall, there is no future for coal,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director. “It’s time for this country’s largest coal company to acknowledge the realities of climate change and the need to keep coal in the ground.”

St. Louis, Missouri-based Peabody Energy is the largest coal company in the U.S.  The company produces more than 180 million tons of coal annually. When burned, this coal produces more than 330 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, more than 5% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

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In a letter to Peabody head, Glenn Kellow, WildEarth Guardians, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, and called on the company to withdraw pending coal lease applications, relinquish coal leases, and reclaim its mining operations.

The groups also called on Peabody to ensure the needs of workers and retirees are fully met, and that communities—including the St. Louis community—are aided as they transition from coal.

“Peabody’s bankruptcy is no different than when the banks crashed our economy in 2008.  Unless we stand up, the bankruptcy court will leave ordinary people—coal miners and impacted communities—out to dry, while CEOs make millions,” said Dell Breeland, St. Louis resident and member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.  “We know that by 2020, Peabody Coal won’t exist—even if it reorganizes, the era of a corporate coal-run economy in St. Louis is over.”

“In the long-term, Peabody is going to go out of business,” said Diana Best, Senior Coal Campaigner with Greenpeace.  “We are calling on the company to take the responsible step and get on board with helping our nation and our communities transition away from coal by winding down their operations in an orderly and effective manner.”

The letter comes as all indications are that Peabody Energy will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy very soon.  The bankruptcy filing would come amid growing controversy over Peabody’s failure to guarantee the clean up of its mining operations.


In February, the U.S. Department of the Interior directed states to look into Peabody’s clean up guarantees and the company on notice of an impending lawsuit over its failure to ensure adequate bonding.

The company’s mining operations are located in the Midwest and Western United States.

In the West, the company’s mines span Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.  Its mines include the North Antelope-Rochelle strip mine in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, the largest coal mine in the world, large strip mines in the American Southwest, including the Kayenta mine on the Navajo Nation, and underground mining operations in Colorado.

In the Midwest, the company’s operations span Illinois and Indiana and include the largest surface coal mines in the eastern United States.

In their letter, the groups pointed out that Peabody could take meaningful steps today to divest its assets, both saving the company money in the near-term and protecting the climate and Americans in the long-term.  These steps include withdrawing applications for new federal coal leases, relinquishing federal coal leases where the company is no longer producing coal, and committing to expeditious deadlines to shut down and reclaim its existing mines.

“It is critical that Peabody’s bankruptcy process entails a just transition for workers and the environment, not organized looting by creditors and executives,” said Amanda Starbuck, program director at  Rainforest Action Network. “Thus includes ending leasing and profiting off public lands.”

“Institutions around the world are divesting from coal companies like Peabody because they see the writing on the wall: the fossil fuel age is coming to an end,” said May Boeve, Executive Director.  “As we repower our economy with 100% renewable energy we must repower our communities, as well. That includes a just transition for Peabody’s employees and all workers in the fossil fuel industry. Peabody shouldn’t take these communities down with them.”

By committing to deadlines to reclaim mines, Peabody could eliminate more than $1 billion in reclamation liabilities.  For example, in Wyoming the company faces more than $800 million in reclamation liability, which could be eliminated if the company cleaned up its mines and fully restored the land.  If not, American taxpayers are likely to end up shouldering the costs of Peabody’s reclamation.


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TLB recommends other news of the earth at WildEarth Guardians

Amid Likely Bankruptcy, an Opportunity to Protect the Climate and Communities

Additional contacts:

Diana Best, Greenpeace, (415) 265-8122
Virali Modi-Parekh, Rainforest Action Network, (510) 747-8476
Caitlin Lee, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, (713) 504-6866

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