To describe the entirety of a man’s life cannot be done with mere words, but Charles Goodall’s life long focus in protecting our natural world, farmland, and communities from destruction is exemplary of his character. Charles founded Stand Up to Coal to fight a proposed coal mine in Champaign and Vermilion Counties by Sunrise Coal LLC. As a fifth-generation farmer, he valued the land and water resources and dedicated his efforts to preserve them. As an avid outdoorsman, he appreciated clean air and the beauty of nature as essential elements in preserving the community’s quality of life.
Charles was influential in alerting his community about the reality of coal mining and why his fellow citizens should not believe the sales pitch of Sunrise Coal. He realized the promise of jobs and profits to the community by the mine proponents was misleading while the detrimental effects to the environment were not discussed. Perhaps the most misleading statements by mine proponents were that all state and federal mine laws would be applied and therefore these laws would protect the environment. Charles with other Stand Up to Coal members knew this contention was not realistic.
The leadership of Charles in the Stand Up to Coal organization along with his active board membership of Prairie Rivers Network and participation in Heartland Coalfield Alliance helped to bring about a collective change in attitudes and established an extensive group of mine opponents. They did what they should have done to protect their community. They united and stood up to coal and the myths that the coal industry promotes to get entrenched into their neighborhoods.
The coal industry’s influence permeated well beyond the placement of coal mining into communities. Charles worked toward removal of the coal industry’s curriculum that was distributed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to any teacher that requested the coal program. He objected to the state promoting coal propaganda as valid information to Illinois youth. He considered education to be about how to develop a clean energy future, not how to enhance fossil fuel profits.
He protected and fought for what was important to him and his family and inspired others to do likewise. Charles led with his heart and mind to better his community, state and country. His legacy is his actions. We all have benefited.