Within hours of renowned climate scientists announcing a staggering milestone in carbon dioxide emissions, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn rolled out the booster wagons for Big Coal and celebrated his state's five-fold increase in record coal exports.
Gov. Quinn, once hailed by the Sierra Club as "the clear choice for Illinois voters who want to move to a clean energy economy and protect our drinking water and wild places," despite the fact that he had received huge contributions from the coal industry, declared:
"Illinois coal is in high demand overseas and we have the resources and infrastructure to take advantage of this opportunity for economic growth," Governor Quinn said. "Our rail lines and river ports, which we continue to improve under the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, give us a unique export advantage over other states in the region."
Never mind that climate destabilizing torrential rains and floods, along with coal barge accidents, tied up the Mississippi River last week.
Never mind that CO2 emissions will reach an alarming 400 parts-per-million (ppm) for the first time in 3 million years.
Never mind that last year's historic drought and climate destabilization had nearly brought the Mississippi River to a standstill.
Never mind that world coal consumption, thanks in part to U.S. coal exports, will keep coal-fired plants as the lead source of CO2 emissions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Never mind that Illinois' own rogue coal industry and state regulatory agencies have failed to protect coal miners, waterways and watersheds, farms and forests, and communities from deadly and costly toxic pollution.
Never mind that the job-robbing union-busting heavily-mechanized economic-diversification-blocking coal industry has left Illinois' historic coal mining counties at the bottom of the charts in entrenched poverty, hopeless unemployment and ruin.
As Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Assistant Director Dan Seals said, "It is truly an unbelievable achievement."
As a historian, I do give Gov. Quinn credit for following in the great tradition of coal exports in Illinois. In 1810, a black slave named Peter Boon shoveled and loaded the outcroppings of coal along the south bank of the Big Muddy River in Jackson County, Illinois. Pushing off toward the Mississippi River in their flatboat, William Boon, a captain in the mounted rangers, and his slave Peter transported the first commercial barge of coal in the heartland.
In effect, Illinois' coal industry was launched with legal slavery--not that Gov. Quinn's notoriously shameless "Coal Education Curriculum" teaches that to Illinois students and teachers, as part of the state coal marketing slush fund.
Despite Peter Boon's presence on the slave schedules, virtually every history book and modern news report of this historic event failed to recognize his enslavement, or the fact that William Boon purchased a "voluntarily indentured" servant as late as 1822. One text geared toward children referred to Peter as Boon's African American friend. As a former lead miner from Kentucky and Missouri, Boon engineered the first commercial slope mine in Illinois.
He and his slave embarked on six epic voyages down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where they were paid in European currency for coal and loads of forest and farm products. Boon's efforts attracted attention. As the first state legislator from southwestern Illinois, he also played a role in shaping the laws that allowed for slave labor to assist his work. He would also set the precedent for the entrepreneurial coal foundations in government office--effectively, the first coal lobby in cahoots with the statewide government.
And the coal ships move on.
Author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, Jeff Biggers can be followed on Twitter @jeffrbiggers
Original article on Huffington Post
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The standard Republican meme, that everything is better done by the private sector, has been debunked in almost every way imaginable (more on that in a bit), but there’s perhaps no more graphic an example of the private sector being much, much worse than the unionized public sector than the Chicago Public Schools janitorial staff.
One Southwest Side elementary principal — who along with others did not want her name printed for fear of retribution — said in a telephone interview that since Aramark took over the school, it has developed...
Justin Rosario | Proud to Be Filthy Liberal Scum 17 Sep 2014 Hits:949 Illinois
“Family run businesses are a great investment. They are part-and-parcel of a community. Corporate raiders like Bruce Rauner will never understand that,” said Dr. Dupuis, co-owner of Wheatland Animal Hospital. Dupuis employs more than two dozen residents of DuPage and Will counties.
The billionaire GOP candidate who pledged to run Illinois ‘like a business,’ will put the interests of his Wall Street pals ahead of Illinois’ main street small businesses
Chicago, IL – Last week, billionaire gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner advised a group of business students at Northern Illinois University to avoid...
Staff | Illinois Freedom 14 Sep 2014 Hits:699 Illinois
Over one hundred Chicago public school students, parents, and community members marched to the city's Board of Education on Monday to demand an end to the school closures, mass lay-offs, and undemocratic political deal-making they say are devastating one of the largest public education districts in the country.
Organized by the Chicago Students Union, which spans 25 of the city's schools and boasts over 200 student participants since it launched last year, the crowd held a mid-day press conference then marched to the headquarters of the Chicago Board of Education. At...
Sarah Lazare | Common Dreams 28 Aug 2014 Hits:658 Illinois
Escalating a fight with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a company that stores enormous mounds of petroleum coke on Chicago's Southeast Side is threatening to sue unless city officials allow the gritty piles to remain uncovered for another four years.
KCBX Terminals, a firm controlled by industrialists Charles and David Koch, is pushing to delay the construction of storage sheds for two years past a 2016 deadline imposed by the Emanuel administration in response to complaints about black dust blowing into surrounding neighborhoods.
The company also wants to raise the maximum height of its...
Michael Hawthorne | Chicago Tribune 03 Aug 2014 Hits:764 Illinois
Charter school operators aren’t the only one’s not being held accountable—a major complaint of the Chicago Teachers Union—it’s the machine politicians angling for electoral support and continued political power.
The War on Independents Wages On
Battle lines were once again drawn between Chicago’s machine democrats and independent democrats when Ald. Toni Foulkes was remapped out of her Southside 15th Ward that changed from a majority of African Americans to 68.3 percent Hispanic.
There may be numerous candidates campaigning for the open 15th Ward aldermanic seat but there is certain to be one...
RA Monaco | Sheffield Gazette 29 Jun 2014 Hits:729 Illinois
Senate Democrats plan to make an end-of-session push this week to “rectify an historical wrong” -- and perhaps give women a strong reason to go to the polls this fall -- by putting Illinois on record in support of an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The bid to revive the Equal Rights Amendment, which was the subject of an epic Statehouse battle in the early 1980s that helped kill the feminist push to amend the U.S. Constitution, comes from state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago and could be a vehicle for...
Dave McKinney | Chicago Sun-Times 19 May 2014 Hits:643 Illinois
More than 40 years after the Equal Rights Amendment was first passed by the U.S. Congress, an Illinois state senator is taking another crack at getting her colleagues in Springfield to adopt the provision that would enshrine in the U.S. Constitution the idea that rights can't be abridged on account of sex.
Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said the proposed amendment is still relevant today given the ongoing debates about equal pay, abortion rights and other issues on which women are fighting for equality.
And she said it's symbolically important to "get Illinois...
John Byrne | Chicago Tribune 19 May 2014 Hits:534 Illinois
It’s official: Illinois on Wednesday joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriage.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, accompanied by state Rep. Greg Harris, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and several other dignitaries, signed into law a measure allowing gay couples to begin marrying on June 1. “It’s a triumph of democracy, a triumph of government by the people,” said the governor, shortly before signing. “We want to have a new birth of freedom across America, and love is not relegated to second-class citizen status.”
The historic nature of...
Emma Margolin | MSNBC.com 21 Nov 2013 Hits:562 Illinois
On Monday, November 18 at noon almost 100 voters rallied in Springfield to ask Senator Richard Durbin to keep cuts to Social Security off the table. Senator Durbin has proposed possible changes such as lifting the Social Security eligibility age and implementing “Chained CPI” for individuals that earn more than $24,000. After an informational picket along Edwards Street the group followed lead organizer JoAnn Conrad retired AFSCME, IEA-NEA, chair of the Progressive Democrats of Greater Springfield, led the rally across Edwards to the senator’s office. The message was “Scrap the...
JoAnn Conrad 18 Nov 2013 Hits:659 Illinois
Those who rely on food stamps will have to make do with a little less beginning today as a boost in funding from the federal stimulus package is set to expire.
The change will affect more than 2 million low-income residents in Illinois who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. Nationally, about 47 million people are expected to feel the pinch.
The move marks the end of an extra $45.2 billion the federal government funneled into the food stamp program beginning in...
Monique Garcia | The Chicago Tribune 03 Nov 2013 Hits:517 Illinois
As another coal train derailed in southern Illinois last weekend, the Illinois State Historical Society teamed up with the Illinois Coal Association on Saturday for their own collision with history during the installation of a historical marker for the state's "First Coal Mine." The real train wreck: Among numerous errors, the Illinois State Historical Society marker fails to mention that other coal mines abounded in southern Illinois, thanks to enslaved African American labor -- including the so-called "first coal mine" -- while the Illinois Coal Association took the occasion...
Jeff Biggers | The Huffington Post 28 Oct 2013 Hits:604 Illinois
The pinnacle of last week's Take Back Chicago rally at UIC came near the end, when the 11 aldermen onstage were asked point-blank whether they support pending proposals to slow privatization and tax increment financing deals. Yes or no?
As more than 2,000 of the city's most dedicated activists looked on, the aldermen all said yes—even though a couple of them are among the most consistent council supporters of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
They then sat there smirking, as if to say, you can't trap me, because I'm too slick.
Things got so absurd...
Ben Joravsky | Chicago Reader 23 Oct 2013 Hits:563 Illinois
Two sections that essentially told kids that coal was safe and good for the environment disappeared today from the website of a state agency in Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has removed coal-related educational sections from its website, less than two weeks after the launch of a grassroots campaign demanding that the pages be taken down.
The website sections were supposed to educate children about energy, but had been widely denounced because they focused on misleading pro-coal messages.
It wasn't just environmentalists who objected to the way Illinois was...
Jeff Biggers | Yes Magazine 14 Oct 2013 Hits:695 Illinois
As absentee oil and gas companies register with the state of Illinois this month, downstate citizens groups are taking the lead among statewide environmental groups and laying out scientific and legal standards for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to consider prior to drafting the controversial horizontal hydraulic fracking rules.
In a letter sent this week to the key legislative committee and state IDNR agency officials, the groups representing rural communities targeted for fracking operations cite "several new scientific studies and academic research papers that...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 08 Oct 2013 Hits:830 Illinois
Dear Rep. Schock,
I am a constituent, writing in my role as coordinator of the Greater Peoria Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).
I and other PDA members were at your town hall meeting in Heyworth, where some of your constituents encouraged you to vote to shut down the government unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded. In reply, you made the sensible point that ACA can't be defunded through the budget process, and that shutting down the government would bring extremely negative political consequences for Republicans. You also stated that...
Larry Jones | Journal Star 29 Sep 2013 Hits:757 Illinois
For many residents in southern Illinois dealing with the fallout of a sanctioned coal and fracking rush, the time has come to revamp the historic Illinois South organization and its…
Two years after a national campaign exposed a coal industry-bankrolled curriculum foisted on unwitting teachers and children, the state of Illinois is still dragging its feet to revamp its own…
On the cusp of a hydraulic fracking rush, southern Illinois should recall its boom-bust history
CARMI, Ill. —
When an oil rush swamped her town of Carmi in the early 1940s, my…
When farmers, families and besieged Hillsboro residents gather this evening for a public hearing on a controversial permit proposal by a coal company to build a second 77-foot-high high hazard…
Inside the 40th annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Chicago, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and other right-wing big-wigs addressed ALEC members and on-the-dole politicians.
Has Rep. Brad Schneider finally gone too far with his recent vote against implementing the very small amount of health care reform that was so very hard won?
In case you…
Brad visiting the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge with Rep. John Lewis earlier this month. (From his Facebook page)
While I have been very pleased with the fact that our congressman, Brad…
It is too bad Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) was not on the House floor last Wednesday when they voted on the McGovern Amendment to the Farm Bill which would have…
Parents and students occupied a Chicago school Wednesday, refusing to budge from a Lafayette Elementary classroom on the final day of education before the school is permanently shut down by…
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