Facing one of the most under-reported climate disasters in the nation, including an unprecedented coal mining rush under Gov. Pat Quinn, deforestation, and an impending fracking boom, residents on the frontlines of extraction in the Shawnee forests of southern Illinois joined climate marchers from around the globe today with their own message of hope and struggle.
CLEAN ENERGY JOBS: Barney Bush, with the Shawnee Vinyard Indian Settlement, calls for a fair share of clean energy jobs, including solar installation, wind turbine and clean energy manufacturing, and energy efficiency campaigns, as part of a regeneration fund for former coal mining areas:
CLEAN WATER PROTECTION, NOT TOXIC WATER: Geneil Stearns, with the Heartwood Forest Council, calls for clean water protection over toxic water discharges from coal mining and future fracking operations.
HARVEST LOCAL FOOD, NOT STRIP MINING OF FARMS AND SOIL: Taking on a strip mine that threatens their farming community of Rocky Branch by Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company, residents Judy and Glenn Kellen call for local food and farm initiatives, including soil protection and carbon sequestration.
Judy and Glenn Kellen, Rocky Branch, photo by Jeff Biggers
WOODLANDS, NOT WASTELANDS: Long-time Shawnee Forest protector Sam Stearns, with the Friends of Bell Smith Friends, calls for better protection of the heartland's unique forests, including reckless logging, mining and fracking.
Sam Stearns, Friends of Bell Smith Springs, photo by Jeff Biggers
THE RUINS OF EAGLE CREEK: "To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men." As reckless coal mining continues at record pace in Illinois, the stripmined ruins of Eagle Creek, where coal waste haunts a depopulated and devastated historic community, serve as cautionary tale of climate change today.
Eagle Creek, Saline County, photo by Jeff Biggers