Take Back St. Louis Ballot Initiative: Activists Target Peabody Energy's City Tax Breaks
In addition to blocking tax incentives, the amendment also calls on the mayor to "create and publish an annual and a 5-year Sustainable Energy Plan that identifies specific measures for reduction in the use of power from unsustainable energy systems in the City of St. Louis."
This component could help the city make improvements with vacant lots in north St. Louis through sustainable development projects, Thomas says.
Klagsbrun says it's not clear yet what the opposition will look like, but she adds, "It's not surprising to anybody that corporations like Peabody...would try to cling on to any money that they could."
Daily RFT left messages yesterday with a Peabody spokeswoman and will update if we hear back.
Update, 10:07 a.m.: A spokeswoman for Peabody just sent Daily RFT a response criticizing the petition:
This petition isn't about Peabody - it's about the hundreds of businesses and other organizations, large and small, that could be caught in the net of this misguided proposal if they buy electricity, oil, gasoline, natural gas or nuclear materials in any meaningful quantities. We are optimistic that, should the proposal reach voters, the citizens of St. Louis would recognize the significant damage this proposal could do to our city's reputation and its ability to attract and retain business.
She adds, "The city could clear up any back and forth about the value of the tax incentive offered to Peabody. As many have reported, it is around $4 million."
Here's the full text of the proposed charter amendment:
A new Article XXVII to the Charter of the City of St. Louis
Be it ordained by the City of St. Louis that the Charter of the City of St. Louis be amended as follows:
ARTICLE XXVII - Sustainable Energy Policy
Section 1 - Statements of Law: Rights of People
(a) Right to a Sustainable Energy Future. All residents in the City of St. Louis possess a right to a sustainable energy future, which includes, but is not limited to, the development, production, and use of energy from renewable fuel sources.
(b) Right to Establish a Sustainable Energy Policy. The residents of the City of St. Louis declare a right to establish policies to promote and support a sustainable energy future for the city. That right includes the right to make laws that: declare certain energy consumption, production and extraction activities as environmentally unsustainable; that support the ability of residents to enjoy a healthy and pleasant quality of life indefinitely; and that do not violate the rights as secured by this Charter.
Section 2 - Sustainable Energy Law
(a) The City shall not grant any Public Financial Incentive to any Unsustainable Energy Producer.
(b) The Mayor of the City of St. Louis shall create and publish an annual and a 5-year Sustainable Energy Plan that identifies specific measures for reduction in the use of power from unsustainable energy systems in the City of St. Louis. The Sustainable Energy Plans and all notes and deliberations related to the creation of the Sustainable Energy Plans shall be made available to the public. These plans shall include, without limitation:
(i) concrete opportunities for Public Financial Incentive toward Renewable Energy Producers and Sustainable Energy Initiatives;
(ii) the availability of City of St. Louis property - particularly land held by the Land Reutilization Authority and the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority - to as wide an array of individuals and groups as possible for Sustainable Energy Initiatives;
(iii) the use of locally generated energy wherever possible to achieve reductions in unsustainable energy use and waste due to inefficient transmission of electricity, with no purchasing of renewable energy credits for systems that will not provide the City with any power.
Section 3 - Definitions
(a) "City" means the City of St. Louis, including without limitation the City's offices, boards, departments, agencies, economic development authorities, the Board of Alderman, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the Mayor and all entities reporting to any of them, and all other subdivisions thereof.
(b) "Public Financial Incentive" means any economic or financial incentive offered or provided by the City, in whole or in part, and includes without limitation:
(i) any tax reduction, credit, forgiveness, abatement, subsidy, or any other tax-relieving measure;
(ii) any tax increment financing or similar financial arrangement;
(iii) any monetary or non-monetary benefit related to any public fund or program;
(iv) any monetary or non-monetary benefit related to any bond, loan, or similar financial arrangement;
(v) any reduction, credit, forgiveness, abatement, subsidy, or any other relief related to any bond, loan, or similar financial arrangement; and/or
(vi) the ability to form, own, direct, and/or receive any economic or financial benefit from any special taxation district.
(c) "Unsustainable Energy Producer" means any entity or organization, no matter how organized under state, federal, or local law, that engages primarily in the mining or extraction of any of the following: fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear and radioactive materials, or other energy sources that are non-renewable. Unsustainable Energy Producer also means any entity or organization, no matter how organized under state, federal or local law, that transacts at least $1,000,000 of business per calendar year with any entity or organization described in the previous sentence.
(d) "Renewable Energy Producer" means any entity or organization, no matter how organized under state, federal, or local law, or not formally organized, that engages primarily in the production of renewable energy. An energy source is renewable if it is derived from existing flows of energy generated by on-going natural processes, including, but not limited to, energy generated from the sun, flowing water, wind flows, and geothermal heat flows.
(e) "Sustainable Energy Initiatives" include but are not limited to: solar power systems, wind turbines, urban gardens and farms, large scale commercial and residential weatherization, recycling centers, sustainable building deconstruction projects that include material reclamation, electric vehicle plug-in stations, local food coops, and other initiatives that either decrease the consumption of energy in the City of St. Louis and/or increase the amount of renewable energy produced in the City of St. Louis.
Section 4 - Enforcement
Any citizen of the City of St. Louis may enforce this Article through an action in equity in any court of competent jurisdiction. In any such action, the citizen shall be entitled to recover the costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney's fees.
Section 5 - Severability
The provisions of this Article are severable. If any court of competent jurisdiction decides that any section, clause, sentence, part, or provision of this Article is illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect, impair, or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences, parts, or provisions of the Article.