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The St. Louis-based owner of Wyoming’s biggest coal mine will hold its annual shareholders meeting in the Cowboy State next month, but some people from the company’s home state are crying foul.

Peabody Energy, owner of the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine near Wright, announced last week that it will hold its April shareholders meeting in Gillette rather than St. Louis. The company said in a prepared release that its leadership in Powder River Basin sales was among the reasons for moving the meeting some 1,000 miles northwest.

“The meeting location also allows Peabody to showcase its North Antelope Rochelle Mine, the world’s largest and most productive coal mine,” the company said in a statement.

But at least one environmental group with an anti-Peabody history disputes the company’s reasons for bringing shareholders to the self-proclaimed Energy Capital of the Nation.

“It seems like a deliberate attempt by the company to avoid our concerns,” Arielle Klagsburn, an organizer for Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, said. “It’s a sign that they’re scared.”

Company officials didn’t respond to a request for comment on MORE’s objections Friday. The company said in a prepared statement that it “periodically” holds meetings in locales away from St. Louis to showcase its operations.

“This location allows Peabody to highlight the importance of America’s largest coal region, which is one of the great energy centers of the world,” the company said.

MORE, which bills itself as an environmental and economic justice group, has a long history with Peabody. The group has routinely protested actions by the company, including Peabody tax breaks and working conditions at the company.

The group has also protested coal mining in general, saying it contributes to global climate change.

Klagsburn said the group looks to Peabody as a model of “corporate greed” and has attempted to make contact with top company officials repeatedly. Shareholders meetings afford the group one opportunity.

“We think the shareholders meeting is a really important time to come face to face with executives that usually hide behind private security,” she said.

MORE members bought several shares of the company just in time for last year’s meeting in St. Louis, where they brought their bevy of concerns before company executives. With the 2013 meeting in Gillette, some shareholders may struggle to make the trip.

But despite the roughly 1,000-mile distance, some share-holding members of the group are considering making the trek.

“It’s only 16 hours away by car,” Klagsburn said. “We’ve got some concerns that are pretty strong and important. I think people are willing to do what it takes to make sure (company chief executive) Greg Boyce hears them.”

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Reach energy reporter Adam Voge at 307-266-0561, or at adam.voge@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom or follow him on Twitter @vogeCST.

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