What does Peabody's bankruptcy mean for impacted communities?

We're demanding #JustTransition for workers, impacted communities, and land! #PayUpPeabody

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Nicholas Ashley, Land defender of Diné nation from Tséchiltah, New Mexico:

"Peabody's bankruptcy means the destruction of our Dinébikeyah (Navajo nation) will end for now until we rise up and dismantle all corporate entities on the land. I demand that Peabody and their affiliates return ALL sacred items removed from the land and be held accountable for the destruction of the Earth. My vision for the future is to see all power plants crumbled to the ground and plant life rise between the concrete slabs and ruins where it once stood. I envision Peabody destroyed by the masses of people who want a clean, safe world not dominated by corporate greed and capitalism! ALL HAIL NATURE!"

 

Tasha Nez, Diné community member from Forest Lake, AZ

Peabody destroyed our homelands, our sacred sites and our way of life. Peabody will keep contaminating our water even though they’ve declared bankruptcy. We demand that Peabody stops mining and pay up for all the destruction they have done. We demand that Peabody cleans up their mess and restores our soils and water before they leave -- and that they take all their trash with them. Return our ancestors remains to us! We will overcome this, we will heal Mother Earth and ourselves. We have been on Black Mesa for many generations and will continue to remain and live there.

 

Nadine Narindrankura, a member of To’Nizhoni Ani and a Nihigaal Be’e’ lina’ walker from Big Mountain, Arizona:

Without water, all life on the Black Mesa plateu will cease to exist. Peabody must replenish the Navajo Aquifer in quality and quantity and the Department of Interior must hold Peabody liable for damages until the N-Aquifer shows full recovery.

 

Lena Henley, from 10 miles N of Hard Rock, AZ:

I feel that if Peabody’s bankruptcy goes through, the mining of coal and use of water will stop. The earth, air, water, wildlife, animals, plants, and the livelihood of people will return to its natural state; it may take time to see the results. I would like to see Peabody put aside some money for their mess and clean up. The more than 40 years that Peabody operated on Black Mesa did not directly affect me. I still live in my hogan without running water but I have had electricity for about 25 years. My grazing permit for livestock has been cancelled for more than 40 years. I have respiratory problems and we are about 50 years behind with development and infrastructure on Black Mesa.

 

Helen Bedonie, from 15 miles N of Hard Rock, AZ:

We have no water for our day to day life -- livestock, crops, our natural watering holes are gone since Peabody has been on our land. I want Peabody to replace the water they have used all these years and the water they have contaminated and to fully reclaim the land they have destroyed. I want Peabody to invest in our future--our kids need money for college.

 

Adrian Herder, long time Black Mesa resident and sheep herder with To’Nizhoni Ani:

Peabody’s bankruptcy to me means the end of this industry’s presence in our homeland. Although they are going bankrupt, their legacy will live on through the damage they have done to the land, people, wildlife, etc. I demand that Peabody report what they have damaged, starting with the water. My vision for a future beyond Peabody and extraction is restoring the land to its original settings. Although I know that is hard with all the damage they have done, but I believe it can be done.

 

Marilyn Tewa, Hopi board member of Black Mesa Trust:

Peabody’s action to file bankruptcy means that they are unable to pay their debts to creditors. So now, the judge will determine who gets paid. Black Mesa Trust knows the first payment will be to the stockholders, top executives and nothing to reclaim land, water and people who have lived on the lands for thousands of years. No justice will be served. We are all at the mercy of the judge who will make a decision on Peabody’s future, but probably not on the future generations to come. Peabody plans to operate and will continue to bring misfortunes to where they will begin extracting coal at full speed again. They will not stop until the Life of the mine is exhausted. Federal agencies (i.e. the Office of Surface Mining, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian and Department of Interior) will not step in. These agencies have severed their trust responsibilities to Indigenous Peoples.

Our ceremonials depends on our springs to be at healthy levels. With the depletion of the Navajo Aquifer, we will be people without religion if Peabody continues to operate their mining activities. The companies and regulatory agencies know this but continue to do harm. Without water, life dyes. Reclaim the natural state of the N-Aquifer.

Howard Dennis Jr., Hopi board member of Black Mesa Trust:

By filing bankruptcy, Peabody is only trying to make others pay for their mistakes. Throughout their dealings with the Hopi, they have continuously been dishonest. We as humans have many addictions, Peabody’s is greed! They wish to operate until 2044, but at whose cost? Damage to our Navajo Aquifer has occurred, we have arsenic in our water, the sacred springs are not as productive as before. Peabody’s slurry process in the past has taken its toll. Our Hopi religious obligations are at risk because of the draw down of Navajo Aquifer. So release your impoundment ponds, so that people of MoeuKopi can water their fields. Repair the land you have damaged, not to a minimal degree but to the highest degree. Immediately stop the usage of the Navajo Aquifer. Transition to clean energy! Peabody has made money off of Native People, don’t hide behind your bankruptcy. Do the right thing.

 

Peabody, don’t hide behind bankruptcy! Don’t make the poor people pay for your mistakes, tax payers, states, tribes. Numerous violations have occurred affecting both Navajo and Hopi people and other states as well. Many are complicit; orchestrators of the lease agreement, including John Boyden the revolving door mastermind of lease agreement between Peabody and Hopi; OSM; Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Interior, US Calvery, US Army Core of Engineers, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act.

 

The drawdown of the Navajo Aquifer has affected our cultural religion as well. Due to the usage of N-Aquifer by Peabody, our springs are now less productive. Should this continue to happen there will be many negative consequences, including earthquakes and floods. If we can't preform these ceremonies we can't keep the earth in balance. Everything will be chaotic in the world.

 

Dan Herder, a farmer and rancher on Black Mesa:

We aspire to live off the land in the way our grandparents instructed us to, where there was no fear of contamination of our water, soil and air.  This is my hope that Peabody will pay to restore what they have ruined, the land, water and air.

 

Darrick Herder, from Big Mountain, AZ

Peabody’s bankruptcy is just a small step towards environmental justice, yet it doesn’t stop the damage that has already been dealt. I demand that they clean up their worksite and admit to their wrongdoings, but that won’t solve much. I see them leaving the land and going completely bankrupt to the point where it would be a memory to the people of Black Mesa.

 

Aaron Simonson, Full sheep herder from Big Mountain, AZ

More clean air and less health problems. We demand that Peabody clean up before they leave. Renewable energy, solar and windmills.

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Louise Benally, longtime Diné (Navajo) activist, Black Mesa/Big Mountain, Arizona:

“Along the way politicians are getting money from Peabody. Politicians are instigating scenes and creating policy and laws that are totally outside the terms of Indian world. They are police-state actions. We are being terrorized.
"Now that Peabody filed for bankruptcy, it allows them to continue to destroy waters and terrorize land. They are not obligated to pay for their destruction, devastation, and most of all the terrorizing of communities on Black Mesa/Big Mountain. They are not going to be held accountable for all the damages and the clean up. Peabody never had a bond with either of the tribes, so its a free ride in and free ride out.
"We demand that they clean up their mess, undo policies that were developed under their directions, do away with Public Law 93-531 because all the money that went into that policy was all for Peabody. Now they need to undo it. Bones need to be returned back to Black Mesa that are sitting in museums in University of Illinois-Corbondale and Northern Arizona University, along with bones of medicines of the people. Demand that they be returned. Water reclamation, water remediation, land remediation and damages: that’s what they are trying to get out of by filing for bankruptcy. Ground water table needs to be restored, and most of all Justice for the People impacted by Hopi and BIA harassment.
"Although they claim it and try to humiliate people and say it is their jurisdiction, they don’t occupy the land. Our animals still graze in those lands. They need to be free from impoundments, from this policy that was created by Peabody Coal company.
"We need environmental justice now. Power to the people and power to the people who are coming from the land!"

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Danny Blackgoat, Big Mountain/Black Mesa, longtime Dineh (Navajo) activist:

 

“For over forty years, Peabody has been involved in displacing Dineh (Navajo) people on

Black Mesa. Peabody has caused the continuous suffering of Dineh people. It has been the intent of energy companies from the beginning to make Navajo people expendable.

 

“We need the resources of Peabody to go first to people being displaced. And we need to shut down the whole Kayenta mine. The bankruptcy court will want to pay out CEOs first, but really those resources should go to the people directly affected -- not the tribal governments -- but the people affected by Peabody’s mine, the people who have resisted forced displacement, the people who Peabody has harassed for decades.”

 

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Norman Benally, Big Mountain/Black Mesa, long time Dineh (Navajo) activist:

 

“I have been all over the country to see the places where Peabody mines – from Appalachia to Indiana to Illinois to Wyoming. It is all similar stories of destruction of the land and local economies. We know that coal is over. Peabody should not be bailed out -- instead it is time for the company to shut down fully.

 

“Communities that have been impacted by Peabody’s destruction need to be considered first and foremost as they talk about restructuring the company. We need resources to reclaim the land that they have ruined. Our communities, the ones most impacted by coal mining, could use money to invest in renewable energy and transition our economy away from the coal mine.”

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Marshall Johnson, Big Mountain/Black Mesa, long time Dine' (Navajo) activist, leader of Tonizhoni Ani:

Bankruptcy is a clear picture of Peabody's attitude of degradation of Indigenous people of Black Mesa. Bankruptcy is an act of dishonesty--an act of dishonoring the integrity of a human to human relationship. With the help of President Obama's Office of Surface Mining under the Department of Interior, Peabody wipes its hands and just walks away!

They have desecrated our natural springs to provide low cost energy, power, and water to the state of Arizona for over 40 years in the Bureau of Reclamation's uphill water project (the Central Arizona Project).

Peabody needs to replace the Navajo Sandstone Aquifer in quality and quantity as a lessee of this water, as stated in a 1966 (Stewart Udall) clause by the Department of Interior water lease agreement between Peabody and Navajo tribe.

The governments--tribe, state of Arizona, US government, and President Obama--have allowed for the largest forced relocation and displacement of Dine' (Navajo) people since the Trail of Tears. Peabody must be held accountable for the modern day cultural genocide of our People!

We are here today knocking at Peabody’s door, and we will continue to knock at federal and tribal representatives doors’ too because they are complicit.

First Nations demand a just and sustainable transition. All fossil fuel industries need to divest from Mother Earth and Invest in Father Sun.

 

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Statement from Ray Cummings, VP for Political Education at the American Federation of Teachers St. Louis Local 420 and St. Louis City resident:

"In 2010 Mayor Slay gave Peabody $2million out of the St. Louis public school budget. That's 300 public school union jobs lost. That's countless textbooks for our city's youth. And this isn't the first time the city has given Peabody money at the expense of our already financially strapped public schools; the renovation of the Peabody Opera House took away funds that should have gone to the schools. The AFT Local 420 demands the city claw-back and cancel future funds given to Peabody Energy. Those funds need to be returned to the public schools.

"We need a new paradigm approach to development. We need an approach that supports regular residents, like people who depend on the bus to get to work and school--not big businesses that continue to take and take from our city's coffers. These tax breaks were originally meant to support growth in low-income neighborhoods, but the city continues to give tax breaks to businesses in the central corridor. It's turned into a corporate welfare system at the expense of our youth. If these companies and our Mayor truly cared about our city in the long-term, they would not be pulling funds away from our public schools. The initiatives outlined in the Sustainable St. Louis report would support low-income youth in St. Louis and build stronger public schools; St. Louis teacher's union supports the report."

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Statement from Dell Breeland, St. Louis resident and member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE):

 

“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 of dollars. We are coming together to demand a true just transition.

 

“In 2010, Peabody took millions of dollars from our underfunded St. Louis Public Schools, all for a 10-year building lease. 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. We need our politicians to get back what Peabody owes for the school children of St. Louis, and even more so, we need to tell our politicians to move money towards a just and green economy, as outlined in the Sustainable St. Louis report, where low income residents are trained and employed in putting up solar panels and weatherizing houses.”

 

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Statement from Basmin Nadra, St. Louis resident and member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE):

 

"St. Louis coal corporations--Peabody, Arch, Foresight, previously Patriot Coal--regularly disregard the health, homes and livelihoods of average people and continue to build their empires by profiting from this oppression. Mayor Slay has aligned his office with Peabody since they moved here. The violent apathy of our elected officials to the very real struggles for survival in the face of coal is embarrassing and shameful. St. Louis has the opportunity to be a leader in Just Transition strategies; it is deeply troubling that they do not see this as imperative and continue to reside in their state of denial."

 

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Statement from Judy Kellen, resident of Rocky Branch (Saline County), IL and member of Justice for Rocky Branch campaign:

 

“I have felt each one of Peabody’s mining blasts from my house across the street. I have breathed in the toxic dust. The ground that Peabody has mined is not farmable. The water is ruined and streams are gone. Miners are out of work. And we are still here. Our experience shows that mining corporations do not have a problem sacrificing anything or anybody that gets in the way of their bottom line.

 

“Our biggest fear from the beginning was Peabody leaving us in the dust, and that fear is growing stronger. If we could afford to leave, we would. But we cannot. This bankruptcy will send shockwaves throughout our already poor and unstable local economy, which is centered around coal mining. This bankruptcy positions Peabody to abandon their responsibilities to my community.

 

“For well over a century, people in Southern Illinois have paid the price for coal companies. That must end today. We need guaranteed quality clean up of the land, so we can farm again. We need job training and investment in sustainable employment. No form of fossil fuel industry fits this call.”

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Statement from Dianne Bady, Huntington, WV, project coordinator with Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition:

 

“While Peabody is not mining in Appalachia at the moment, the company's bankruptcy mirrors severe problems that coal bankruptcies are causing here. Major companies doing mountaintop removal / valley fill mining in West Virginia have filed for bankruptcy – Patriot, Arch and Alpha.

 

“Our very challenging goal has been to try to get the bankruptcy courts to require these companies to use as much of their remaining money as possible to clean up their toxic messes here and bring some measure of justice. One example of how workers have suffered is that, against our objections, the bankruptcy court approved Alpha’s payment of $11 million in bonuses to top executives, but allowed the company to renege on retirement and health care benefits for thousands of workers.  

 

“Our extensive pollution litigation against mountaintop removal operations has resulted in dozens of companies being forced to pay to install highly expensive pollution control equipment - but with the bankruptcies the funding for some of this pollution control is in question. Bankruptcy law is stacked against us, as paying bankruptcy lawyers and other company obligations is a higher priority than cleaning up companies' toxic messes and protecting communities.”

 

 

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Statement from Carl Shoupe, retired third generation coal miner, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Benham, KT:

"I’m not a bit shocked that Peabody has filed for bankruptcy protection. Here in Kentucky, we’ve known the coal industry has been leaving for 30 years. This bankruptcy filing by the biggest of coal companies proves that the time to build a new economy that is good for all people—not just a wealthy few—is now, right now. Together, we can build a new, sustainable economy—one that provides meaningful jobs for our people, protects health and well-being of our workers and families, creates clean and affordable energy, and restores our land and water.

"As companies like Peabody continue to fold under their own weight, our elected leaders must step up and speak the truth about the future of the industry and work to pass policies to create a just economic transition while protecting the benefits and pensions of coal miners. 

"Right now there are two bills before Congress that all Representatives and Senators across the country can get behind. The RECLAIM Act in the House would provide funds to clean up abandoned mine sites in ways that create future economic and community development. The Miners’ Protection Act in the Senate would shore up the federal benefits and pension fund for coal miners that is being drained by coal company bankruptcies such as Peabody’s. Mr. Peabody’s coal train might have hauled away our coal—and the profits along with it—but we Kentuckians are still right here, fighting every day for a bright future and demanding our elected leaders do their job to help us transition to a new economy while keeping our promises to the coal miners who powered this country."