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Daring Protest Calls on Bank of America to Stop Funding Coal and Climate Change

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hi-Res Rights Free Photos will be available at, http://www.ran.org/boaphotos

CHARLOTTE, NC—Today, two coal activists from Rainforest Action Network (RAN) unfurled a banner reading “Not with Our Money” from atop two 50-foot flagpoles at the entrance of Bank of America’s esteemed headquarters in downtown Charlotte. The group is protesting Bank of America’s role as the top financier of the U.S. coal industry. The two climbers were joined by dozens of outspoken coal and economic justice activists who held a rally in front of the bank’s main entrance. 

In the past two years alone, Rainforest Action Network finds that Bank of America has pumped $4.3 billion into the U.S. coal industry; $1.3 billion more than other top banks. With today’s protest, environmentalists have joined the mounting outrage at Bank of America’s reckless financing practices, a critique which has been on display with the Occupy Movement and with the record transfer of customer accounts to credit unions. According to the Credit Union National Association, 700,000 consumers across the nation have joined credit unions since Sept. 29 and credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts.

 “If Bank of America would like to regain the trust of the 99 percent, it must adopt sound economic and environmental policies that reflect the values of its customers. Bank of America can start by getting out of bed with the coal industry and shifting its funding toward renewable energy sources that will have long term benefits for our environment, our health and our economy,” said Amanda Starbuck, Rainforest Action Network’s Energy and Finance Campaign Director.

Bank of America funds every sector of the U.S. coal industry, including companies that operate the most controversial coal-fired power plants and the most devastating forms of strip mining, including mountaintop removal coal mining.

“Brian Moynihan says he’s ‘incensed’ because people don’t recognize what Bank of America has brought to communities. I’m incensed at Brian Moynihan's deceit,” said Bo Webb from Coal River Mountain Watch who traveled from Appalachia to speak out at Tuesday’s rally. “Moynihan is financing terror on people in Appalachia. He needs to find his moral compass or stand to be de-throned.”

Today’s action comes only a month after RAN announced its Not One More Dollar for Campaign, which asks Bank of America customers to close their accounts until Bank of America stops subsidizing the coal industry. The international environmental group has garnered the support of thousands of Bank of America customers, who in the last few weeks have pledged to close their accounts, citing the bank’s insistence on underwriting the coal industry. 

“As Charloteens, we have a responsibility to stand up to Bank of America, because of the company’s anti-person and anti-planet policies,” said Todd Zimmer, a Charlotte local and organizer with Rainforest Action Network.  “Bank of America’s investment in coal makes it even more clear that the bank puts profit way before people. It’s time all of us in Charlotte have a real conversation about how we can bring the bank’s values more in line with our own.”

RAN is demanding that Bank of America cease all financing for companies pursuing new coal-fired power plants and life-extending retrofits of existing power plants. In addition, the bank should no longer finance companies engaged in mountaintop removal coal mining, and shift the balance of its energy financing to support renewable energy and energy efficiency. 

The group has a long history working with and pressuring banks to redirect their investments on everything from logging to coal mining. Last year, RAN moved eight of the world’s largest banks to adopt policies limiting investments in mountaintop removal coal mining.

Coal is responsible for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and the U.S. is the world’s second largest coal producer. Coal-fired energy generation is responsible for pollutants that damage cardiovascular and respiratory health and threaten healthy child development.

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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

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