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Early in April, coal industry executive Shaun McCutcheon won big when the Supreme Court swept away limits on how much money wealthy donors can contribute to federal political campaigns. But in St. Louis, Mo., coal interests are trying to prevent people from even voting.

This story began when ordinary citizens joined together and took a stand against both climate change and their city’s destructive practice of granting enormous tax breaks to big business while cutting funding for public services. They talked to thousands of residents who were upset that St. Louis keeps giving away tens of millions of dollars of badly needed public money to Peabody Energy (the world’s largest private-sector coal company) and the lobbyists, banks, and law firms that enable it. And after hearing over and over again that “there oughta be a law” against corporate welfare for polluters, they did what we learned in civics class: they wrote a law that would ban public financial incentives to unsustainable energy producers and their major business partners.