Bank of America: Risking Public Health and the Climate

As outrage at the country’s largest banks increases with the Occupy Movement and record bank customers move money to credit unions and local banks, RAN finds yet another reason customers should be wary of Bank of America. Our campaign briefing, titled Bank of America: Risking Public Health and the Climate brings to light the company as the country’s top financier of the coal industry, and in turn, a leading contributor to climate change in the United States.

In the last two years, the company pumped $4.3 billion into the U.S. coal industry, more than any other bank.

Bank of America is involved in every aspect of the coal 
mining industry. It routinely underwrites billions to the 
industry, including hundreds of millions of dollars in 
loans to Arch Coal and Peabody Energy—the two biggest 
coal mining companies in the country. Bank of America
 also under writes billions every year to coal-heavy utility 
corporations, such as Southern Company and Edison 

Coal-fired electricity is a scourge on the country’s public
 health on the scale of tobacco, asbestos, and other industries associated with large-scale human health damages. While toxic industries may deploy aggressive PR campaigns to defend their profits, an eventual reckoning is inevitable, and investors are well advised to avoid such pariahs.

Bank of America has an opportunity to lead the banking 
industry by developing a comprehensive coal policy that
 commits the company to shifting its financing away from 
coal and toward investments in renewable energy.

After more than a decade successfully working to establish environmental policies and practices at the country's top banks, RAN is demanding that Bank of America spend not one more dollar on coal. In particular, RAN is calling on BoA to:

** STOP financing for companies pursuing new coal-fired
power plants and life-extending retrofits of existing
 coal-fired power plants;

** STOP financing for companies engaged in
 mountaintop removal coal mining;

** STOP financing for companies pursuing coal export 

** SHIFT the balance of energy financing to support 
renewable power generation that is less threatening to
 our health and environment.

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From the cradle to the grave, coal is a risky business. Each stage in the life cycle of coal–extraction, transportation and combustion–presents increasing health, environmental, reputational, legislative and financial risks.