Friday Forum: A Tax on Coal: A Fair Return for Communities Affected by Mining

Event details

  • November 3, 2017
  • 12:00 pm
  • 1001 S. Wright St. Champaign, IL 61820
  • 2173371500

Speakers: Pam and Lan Richart, Co-founders, Eco-Justice Collaborative and Andrew Rehn, Prairie Rivers Network

Did you know that Illinois is a major coal producing state?  It ranks ranks 4th in the nation among 25 top coal states, and its high energy and low-production costs make it among the most desirable.  

But coal mining comes at a significant cost to communities where coal is produced. Mining destroys the land, pollutes the air, poisons waterways, and damages roads and other infrastructure. Out-of-sate corporations like  Peabody Energy, Murray Energy, and Foresight Energy profit, while leaving behind a legacy of waste that can never fully be cleaned up or reclaimed.

Shouldn’t communities affected by coal mining benefit from the one-time taking of this resource? In this presentation you will learn about the impacts of coal on Illinois communities, and the excise fee proposed by Eco-Justice Collaborative and it’s partners to provide both a community benefit that can be used to transition to cleaner energy and repair the damage left behind by coal.

About the Speakers: 

Andrew Rehn, Water Resources Specialist, Prairie Rivers Network

Andrew joined PRN part time in early 2015 as he was finishing his master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is now full time since November 2015. Andrew became passionate about water resources issues from high school debate, where he advocated for clean water development. In his undergraduate, Andrew was a member of the Ntisaw Village Water Partnership; an Engineers Without Borders project that designed and built a gravity-fed water distribution system in Cameroon. In his graduate studies, Andrew was a co-creator of Illinois Water Day, an event organized to bring campus and community together to discuss water issues. He also has a passion for education, served as a teaching assistant in two classes, and does guest lectures whenever possible. Andrew provides technical expertise in support of Prairie River’s coal pollution programs. The challenges facing Illinois watersheds are complex, and finding answers to those problems requires science and engineering experience that Andrew brings to PRN.

Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative

Pam is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Eco-Justice Collaborative, now based in Champaign, Illinois. While raising her family, she received her BA in Human Ecology in 1978 and her MA in Human Environment Planning in 1983 from Governors State University. From 1982 through 2008 Pam was employed by Planning Resources Inc. (PRI), an environmental and land use consulting firm founded in 1982. During that time, she served as Senior Planner and Vice-President and Director of Planning. She became an owner of the firm in 1996.

While with PRI, Pam prepared and directed comprehensive land use plans, zoning ordinances, and their updates and served as community planner for several Villages in DuPage and Kane County.  She also directed and carried out land use, socio-economics and historic and cultural resources for major highway and rail projects in the Midwest, including High Speed Rail from Chicago to St. Louis. As part of this work, Pam helped develop and carry out public and agency involvement programs aimed at reaching public consensus on complex or controversial proposals.

In the mid-1990’s, a series of trips to Latin America helped transform Pam’s way of thinking about socio-economic and environmental crises both at home and globally. She subsequently served on the board of Jubilee Economics, a faith-based organization that contextualizes the healing and restoration of our one earth with the ancient practices of the biblical jubilee, and was founding board member of Chicago Fair Trade.  In 2000, Pam and Lan decided to infuse eco-justice into their work, and began the process of transitioning both leadership and ownership of PRI. This enabled them to start Eco-Justice Collaborative, with its mission that advocates ecological sustainability and just distribution of resources.

Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative

Lan is a Co-Founder and Co-Director of Eco-Justice Collaborative. An ecologist by training, he received a BS in Zoology in 1971 and an MS in Biology in 1976 from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. From 1972 through 1976 he worked as a research assistant in the Aquatic Biology Section of the Illinois Natural History Survey, conducting field studies of aquatic invertebrates and water quality within Illinois lakes and streams. In 1977 he moved to Chicago where he joined the Planning Department of DeLeuw Cather and Company, an international engineering firm specializing in the design of public infrastructure (now Parsons Corporation). There he served as a project manager, directing environmental impact analyses and the preparation of environmental documentation under the National Environmental Policy Act. In 1983 he joined Planning Resources Inc. where in conjunction with his wife Pam and a senior partner, he helped establish the firm as one of Chicago’s leading planning, environmental and landscape architectural firms. Serving as vice president and then president of PRI, he had responsibility for business development and operations for the 18-person firm and directed the environmental department in technical studies related to preparation of environmental impact assessment, natural resource protection and impact mitigation design.

Lan combines his passion for the natural environment with a strong sense of social justice honed through experiences in Latin America. In 2000 he participated in the first of several delegations to Chiapas Mexico; trips that began to shape his understanding of the immense impact that U.S. global economic interests had on the people and resources of the world. In 2001 he traveled as part of a fact-finding delegation to remote parts of Colombia, where he met with poor and indigenous communities who had been displaced by the exploitive practices of international development. Before the establishment of Eco-Justice Collaborative he served on the board of the International Service for Peace (SiPaz) from 2001 through 2007. These experiences helped influence the mission of Eco-Justice Collaborative through an understanding that to bring about a healthy world, today’s environmental challenges must be addressed in concert with the on-going struggles for social and economic justice.

About the Series: Building a Better Environmental Movement – Fall 2017

This fall, we are pleased to partner with the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations’ Diversity and Social Justice Education unit (DiversityEd) and the Student Sustainability Committee to host a series that explores the intersections of the environment and social justice. Our Fall 2017 Friday Forum series on environmental issues and solutions, ranging from climate change and policy to active transportation and agriculture, seeks to elevate sustainability issues on campus and in our communities and deepen our understanding of environmental justice.
 
This series was made possible thanks to the generous support of our partners: Diversity and Social Justice Education and the Student Sustainability Committee
 
Additional Fall 2017 Friday Forum Lecture Series support provided by:
 
Channing Murray Foundation, Chapel of Saint John the Divine Episcopal Church, Faith in Place, First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana, LGBT Resource Center, League of Women Voters Champaign County, McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation, Native American House, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois, Wesley United Methodist Church, U of I School of Social Work, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program, Funding provided BY THE STUDENT CULTURAL PROGRAMMING FEE