Working with Illinois-based Prairie Rivers Network and local citizens' group Justice for Rocky Branch, the Sierra Club has successfully stopped Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company, from illegally logging 200 acres of hardwood forests at its proposed Rocky Branch coal mine in Saline County in southern Illinois.
Above, local residents at an Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) public hearing in December. Only one person, a Peabody representative, spoke in favor of the mine.
The Rocky Branch mine would destroy productive farmland, leave a 1,000-acre pit, and destroy nearly eight miles of streams and roughly 200 acres of forests that provide habitat for the at-risk Indiana bat and other wildlife. Citizens and environmental groups have previously raised concerns about the proposed mine, including impacts to waterways, disturbances and damage from blasting, airborne dust, and the destruction of farmland and wildlife habitat.
So how did the residents of Saline County stand up to Peabody and their own state?