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The War On Coal In Southern Illinois

Last summer, WBEZ reporter Dan Weissmann traveled to West Frankfort, a small town in southern Illinois that briefly played host to a small battle in the so-called “war on coal.” With coal at the center of the climate change battle, some people from around West Frankfort pulled together an army of sorts to take up their part in that fight. Weissmann attended one of their rallies last June. With coal back in the news — in March President Trump issued an executive order to “end the war on coal” — WBEZ Presents revisits Weissmann’s 2016 report from coal country.

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War on Coal

An attendee at the Old King Coal festival in West Frankfort, Illinois in June 2016.

Bill Healy/WBEZ

Last summer, WBEZ reporter Dan Weissmann traveled to the Old King Coal Festival in West Frankfort, a small town in southern Illinois. (The area produces so much coal, boosters call southern Illinois the Saudi Arabia of coal.)

With coal at the center of the climate change battle, some people from around West Frankfort pulled together an army of sorts to take up their part in that fight. Weissmann attended one of their rallies in June.

A few months later, a coal-friendly presidential candidate won the election. On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump declared his administration would “put an end to the war on coal,” before signing an executive order to roll back former President Barack Obama’s climate change initiatives. Among other provisions, Trump’s order ended a moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land, according to The Hill.

With coal back in the news, WBEZ Presents revisits Weismann’s 2016 report to hear the voices and the challenges from coal country.

Subscribe to the WBEZ Presents podcast feed to hear WBEZ documentaries and stories that our staff wants you to hear.

Support for Heat of the Moment is provided by The Joyce Foundation, working to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and achieve a fair society.

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