Bank of America Decision to Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal a Victory for Appalachia and Anti-Coal Movement

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - Rainforest Action Network praised Bank of America today for its decision to phase out financing for companies that practice mountaintop removal coal mining, a highly destructive and controversial method of coal extraction. The announcement, part of a new coal policy released on the bank’s website, reads: “We…will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal.”

“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, which has pressed 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.”

Bank of America’s policy comes the day after the Bush administration’s approval of a rule that will make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop removal mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. The rule has been bitterly contested by environmentalists and Appalachian communities.

“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.”

The bank’s policy also supports technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and commits to promote the development and implementation of CCS to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Rainforest Action Network has argued that CCS is not yet close to being commercially viable and has pushed energy efficiency and renewable energy sources as far better investments.

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. The practice is a major threat to the existence of many Appalachian communities.

To view Bank of America’s new coal policy, please visit:

http://environment.bankofamerica.com/articles/Energy/COAL_POLICY.pdf

For more information about Rainforest Action Network, please visit www.ran.org.

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org