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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

April 23, 2010

Melissa Legge
(802) 274-9537,
David Graham-Caso
(213) 387-6528 x 214,

"The Great Coal Debate"
Sierra Club Faces Off Against Peabody in Debate Hosted by Washington University, St. Louis

(ST. LOUIS, MO) – A leader from the country’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization, the Sierra Club, will face off against a representative from the largest private-sector coal company in the world, Peabody Energy, in a debate about the future of coal in our country.  “The Great Coal Debate,” which is being hosted by the Washington University Student Union, is sure to be a lively discussion about what place, if any, coal has in the rapidly changing clean energy economy of the future.

WHAT:  “The Great Coal Debate” -- A moderated discussion between two influential participants in the development of our future energy economy. 

WHO:  Fred Palmer, Senior Vice President of Government Relations at Peabody Energy
           Bruce Nilles, Deputy Conservation Director for the Sierra Club 
           Moderator: Bryan Walsh, Environmental Correspondent for TIME Magazine

WHERE:  Graham Chapel, Washington University in St. Louis, Danforth Campus

WHEN:  Tuesday, April 27, 5 pm (Doors open at 4:30 pm)


The discussion will be will be streamed live via  At the event, student activists will be available for comment about their school's unique position in the national debate about coal. 

There will be additional media availability with debate participants at a reception immediately following the debate. Please contact Melissa Legge at if you are interested in attending the reception.


Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal company in the world, fuels 10 percent of all U.S. electricity generation, 2 percent of worldwide electricity production. In 2008, Peabody Energy donated $5 million toward the formation of the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization, a research initiative at Washington University in St. Louis, and Fred Palmer is on the Advisory Board of the consortium. Gregory Boyce, Peabody's CEO, was also appointed to the university's Board of Trustees in August of 2009.

The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, currently directed by Bruce Nilles, aims to move our economy toward a clean energy future by stopping new polluting coal-fired plants, phasing out existing plants, and keeping U.S. coal reserves in the ground and out of international markets.  Thanks in part to the work of the Beyond Coal Campaign, plans for 125 new coal plants have been shelved since the beginning of the coal rush, keeping more than 335 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Washington University students have worked with the student branch of this campaign, Campuses Beyond Coal, over the past year, as they have urged the Consortium to remove the words "clean coal" from its name.

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