Bank of America's Coal-Funding Concessions Delight Climate Activists

Bank of America received praise from the Rainforest Action Network for its decision to phase out financing for companies that practice mountaintop removal coal mining, a controversial method of coal extraction.

The announcement, part of a new coal policy released on the Bank of America’s website reads: “We…will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal.” The policy comes the day after the Bush administration approved a rule which will make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop removal mining operations into nearby streams and valleys.[social_buttons]

“Bank of America’s decision is a giant leap forward in the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining, which has devastated Appalachian communities and the mountains and streams they depend on,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, director of Rainforest Action Network’s Global Finance Campaign.

The Rainforest Action Network has pressured Bank of America since October 2007 to cease financing of mountaintop removal mining and coal-fired power plants. “We hope that Citi, JP Morgan Chase and other banks follow Bank of America’s lead.”

“This is a testament to the hard work of Appalachian communities and anti-coal activists across the country, whose collective pressure left Bank of America with little choice but to abandon its support for this barbaric form of resource extraction,” said Tarbotton. “To responsibly meet the challenges of the climate crisis, Bank of America’s next step should be a complete phase-out of coal financing and increased investments in energy efficiency and renewables.”

Bank of America is currently involved with eight of the U.S.’s top mountaintop removal coal-mining operators, which collectively produce more than 250 million tons of coal each year. Mountaintop removal flattens mountain ranges and transforms healthy mountain woodlands into toxic sludge that has clogged more than 700 miles of rivers and streams. For many Appalachian communities, the practice is a major threat to their existence.

Photo Credit: The Sierra Club on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

2 thoughts on “Bank of America's Coal-Funding Concessions Delight Climate Activists”

  1. Rising Tide Boston wishes to announce that the group will continue its part in the widespread campaign to pressure Bank of America to drop its involvement with the coal industry, despite the bank’s recent release of a new “Coal Policy”. We view this so-called policy as a PR gimmick intended to distract the public from Bank of America’s ongoing funding of the coal industry. Bank of America’s Coal Policy fails to commit to a timeline or any concrete action to halt their financing of mountain top removal coal mining, and the alternatives the bank pledges to support are not solutions at all.

    Bank of America claims that they will “phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal.” Without having any sort of schedule, there is no way to know that Bank of America actually intends to follow through on their stated plan. If the bank’s intention is a “phase out” over a number of years, what does that mean for places being bombed or covered in toxic sludge every day? If and when Bank of America does drop companies like Massey Energy, we hope they would extend this action to all companies wreaking havoc on ecosystems and coalfield communities through strip mining.

    Bank of America says that they will promote technologies that “capture carbon from fossil fuel plants and then sequester that carbon in geologic reservoirs,” which is also problematic. At a period in history when climate-related disasters have become a reality for communities around the globe, there is no longer any time for putting our hopes in pie-in-the-sky solutions like carbon capture and storage. CCS technology will not be available to implement on a large scale for years, and with unnatural disasters increasing in frequency and intensity, we need to drastically cut our consumption – not wait for technological quick fixes.

    Somebody should let Bank of America know that a completely free and reliable form of carbon capture and storage already exists! It’s produced by two powerful forces: biological (capturing carbon in the form of living organisms) and geological (transforming carbon into a very stable form underground and inside of mountains). It’s called coal. If Bank of America wants to demonstrate their commitment to carbon storage, we recommend that they promote the practice of leaving fossil fuels inside the Earth where they belong.

    Rising Tide Boston also wishes to remind Bank of America that our concerns are not limited to “the environment” and that throwing us a bone like the “Coal Policy” won’t distract us from the bank’s practice of evicting our neighbors who have been hit hard by predatory lending and the mortgage crisis. Perhaps when we’ve heard conclusively from coalfield residents that strip-mining has stopped, when people stop being evicted from their homes across the U.S., and when Bank of America stops making a profit off industries that create climate chaos, we’ll “phase out” our campaign against them.

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