by: Arielle Klagsbrun, Wash U student and co-president of Wash U Green Action
St. Louis has long been corporate ground zero for dirty energy. Over the past two years, these corporations have become increasingly close with Washington University: Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, and the dirty energy utility Ameren UE helped found the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization, the CEOs of Arch Coal and Peabody were appointed to WashU’s Board of Trustees, and WashU’s chancellor was the vice chair of a National Research Council report on America’s energy future that advocated for the continued use of coal.
The weekend of Oct. 2 and 3rd, Arch, Peabody and Ameren are sponsored the Symposium on the Global Energy Future, an international event bringing scientists from around the world to St. Louis. While the Symposium has a laudable goal of creating a cooperative vision for our global energy future, the Symposium has been corrupted by corporate greed and a desire for political expediency. The Symposium espouses a belief that true change to our energy system is impossible, and gives coal a prominent place in the world’s energy future.
Yesterday, the CEO of Peabody Energy, Greg Boyce, gave a keynote speech on “The Future of Fossil Fuels.” Before the speech, WashU student Matt Blum summed up students’ frustrations: “Greg Boyce places his company’s coal-dependent profits above our health and the future of our planet. We will take a stand as he speaks at this supposedly-scientific conference. My generation knows coal is over.”
So students took a stand, literally. During Boyce’s speech, about thirty people stood at intervals, revealed yellow Sierra Student Coalition Beyond Coal shirts and held signs debunking Boyce’s lies. CEO Boyce did not acknowledge the students, but the 300 international attendees sure did, murmuring and taking pictures of the protesting students. Through discussion questions, students then pressed Boyce on climate change and human impact of coal. They triumphantly exited the talk and directed symposium attendees to view the Beehive Design Collective’s “True Cost of Coal” banner, which was displayed outside the building. Meanwhile, students at the Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference in Georgia made a video in solidarity with students at WashU.
Read the rest of blog on the Energy Action Coalition's page: WashU students take a stand against coal