FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 12, 2014
Contact: Arielle Klagsbrun, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), 617 869 8345, firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Louis Judge Sides with Peabody Coal to Block Citizens’ Ballot Initiative to End Corporate Welfare to Fossil Fuels
Among Judge’s Claims is Citizens United Gives Fossil Fuels Equal Protection Under Constitution
ST. LOUIS -- Yesterday, Judge Robert Dierker sided with Peabody Coal’s lawyers to grant a temporary restraining order to keep a citizen-driven ballot initiative to end tax breaks to fossil fuel companies off the April 8, 2014 ballot. He set a hearing date on the permanent injunction for March 31, 2014.
The judge declared that the initiative was “facially unconstitutional” because there were some conflicts with state law and because banning tax breaks to unsustainable energy producers is a “patent denial of equal protection to those entities.” He went on to say, “business entities (which, after all, are a species of associations of citizens coming together in the exercise of economic freedom) are entitled to constitutional protection as citizens and may not arbitrarily be denied basic legal rights. See Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm., 558 U.S. 310 (2010).”
Just two weeks ago, Jane Dueker, a former Peabody lobbyist, from Stinson Leonard Street, a law firm that currently lobbies for Peabody, filed the motion for the restraining order. Last summer, citizens with the Take Back St. Louis coalition turned in over 22,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. The proposed charter amendment would end public financial incentives, such as tax abatements, to fossil fuel mining companies and those doing $1 million of business with them per year, and requires the city to create a sustainable energy plan for renewable energy and sustainability initiatives on city-owned vacant land. Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, is headquartered in the City of St. Louis and received tax breaks on $61 million of purchases and office renovations from the City in 2010.
“We fundamentally disagree with this temporary ruling, and quoting Citizens United is an insult to home rule powers and our local democracy. Saying that Peabody Energy has equal rights with St. Louis public school students who lack supplies due to corporate tax breaks is what is a violation of rights in our city,” said Reginald Rounds with the Take Back St. Louis campaign. “We, and the 22,000 registered voters in the City of St. Louis who signed to put this on the ballot, will continue to fight for our right to have a sustainable local economy, not one run by coal corporations and other polluters.”
At the hearing before Judge Dierker last Friday, two officials from the office of Mayor Francis Slay testified against the citizen-driven petition, highlighting the collaboration between the elected mayor’s office and the plaintiffs. Judge Robert Dierker is the author of “The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault.”
The Take Back St. Louis coalition will continue to fight the temporary injunction and move forward on the necessary citywide conversation on what kind of city we want St. Louis to be -- one dependent on large coal corporations or one with a local green economy.
For more information on Take Back St. Louis, check out: www.TakeBackStLouis.com. Judge Dierker’s ruling available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/206544694/Sustainable-Energy-Order-Feb-11-2014