Lawsuit to Protect Peabody Energy Goes to Court
ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A plan to end all city tax breaks to energy firms such as Peabody, Ameren and Laclede Gas is the subject of a lawsuit slated for a hearing this morning.
Judge Robert Dierker will hear arguments in the case of a petition drive that would let city voters decide whether to ban taxpayer assistance to energy firms deemed “unsustainable energy providers.”
Green Energy activists gathered 22,000 signatures to put the issue on the April ballot here.
“I think the scariest thing that they’re saying is that citizens don’t have a right to do these sorts of petition drives,” said organizer Arielle Klagsbrun. “It’s perhaps not surprising that this lawsuit is coming. We know that Peabody wants to block democracy as many corporations do.”
Whether Peabody is behind the suit remains unclear. The plaintiffs named are described only as “citizens” of the city of St. Louis. But Klagsbrun says two of the lawyers have been lobbyists in the past for Peabody.
Attorneys fighting the petition drive are expected to argue its signatures were gathered with “misleading” summary language and that the process violates the state constitution.
The suit was filed against the St. Louis Election Board, attempting to block it from putting the proposal on the ballot.
Election Board officials tell KMOX they believe the 22,000 valid signatures meet the legal requirements to put the issue before voters. But time is short. The election board needs a decision before it orders the ballots printed for the April 8 election.
This morning’s hearing is scheduled to get underway in Division 18 at nine o’clock.