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Faith, Health and Environmental Leaders Call for Clean Energy and Curbing Coal Pollution at Ameren Shareholders’ Meeting

Current Ameren Business Model Depends on Dirty Coal, Lacks Investment in Local Clean Energy

ST. LOUIS–(ENEWSPF)–April 24, 2014.  Today, local faith, health and environmental leaders attended Ameren’s annual shareholders’ meeting to call on the utility company to reduce its dependence on coal-fired power plants and make significant investments in clean energy. The groups made the case to shareholders that Ameren’s business model saddles St. Louis citizens with health costs associated with coal pollution, contributes to the growing climate crisis and leaves the city lagging when it comes to developing clean energy jobs.

“Today I delivered a letter signed by nearly 40 faith leaders from across all different faith communities in the St. Louis region, calling upon Ameren to begin a swift transition from dirty fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources in order to protect our community and our climate,” said Reverend Carleton Stock of Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy. “Coal fired power is a risk to our health, our community, our future and to us as Ameren shareholders.”

Click here to view letter from St. Louis faith leaders to Ameren shareholders: sc.org/1lIGPZi

According to the Clean Air Task Force, pollution from Ameren’s Labadie coal plant in Franklin County, Meramec coal plant in St. Louis County and Rush Island coal plant in Jefferson County contribute to 3,870 asthma attacks, 360 heart attacks and 226 premature deaths every year.

“Particle pollution from Ameren’s coal plants puts our health at risk here in St. Louis, especially for the elderly and children,” said Dr. John Kissel, Retired Primary Care Physician, Internal Medicine. “The true cost of burning coal is paid by St. Louis families as they cope with increased respiratory issues and asthma attacks from pollution.”

The Sierra Club launched a major advertising campaign this month in St. Louis City and County highlighting the risks and costs associated with Ameren’s dependence on outdated coal-fired power plants that lack modern pollution controls. Ameren relies on coal for nearly 80 percent of its electricity generation, while the national average is closer to 40 percent.

“Ameren’s outdated business model presents so many risks and costs to the people of St. Louis and surrounding areas,” said Sara Edgar, Field Organizer with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign in Missouri. “While utilities across the Midwest are making smart investments in clean energy at no cost to their customers, Ameren aims to put Missourians on the hook for many more years of health risks from coal pollution in our air, toxic coal ash waste in our water and high rates from the rising cost of coal. Enough is enough. Ameren needs to get smart about clean energy now.”

Coal-fired power plants are the country’s biggest carbon polluters, which means that in order to address climate disruption, utility companies like Ameren must start phasing out dependence on coal plants and investing in clean energy like wind and solar.

Students and representatives from the Wash U Students Against Peabody movement were also present at Ameren’s shareholders’ meeting. The group has held a sustained demonstration outside of Washington University in St. Louis’ admissions office for the past week, calling on Chancellor Mark Wrighton to end the school’s relationship with St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, one of the biggest polluters on the planet. Peabody CEO Greg Boyce sits on Washington University’s Board of Trustees, and in 2009, Peabody and Ameren donated millions of dollars to the school to launch the “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization,” a research entity housed in the Engineering School.

“Ameren is one of Peabody Energy’s biggest customers, burning millions of tons of dirty coal every year,” said Caroline Burney, a representative with Wash U Students Against Peabody. “We can’t stand by and let big polluters hurt our health and jeopardize our future. Ameren needs to move forward with clean energy like wind and solar instead of staying stuck in the past with coal.”

Source: sierraclub.org


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