Today Rainforest Action Network (RAN) urged the City of San Francisco to cut ties with Bank of America, calling for the city to review its contracts with Bank of America next spring when the city re-opens bidding for its service agreements. As the Occupy movement exposes the current public anger with banks, Bank of America has risen as one of the most distrusted in the country.
RAN underscored the importance that the City of San Francisco does business with a bank whose investments support a healthy and stable future. Recently, RAN research exposed that Bank of America is the lead financier of the coal industry as well as being the lead forecloser of American homes. RAN has called on the bank to fulfill its commitment to fund clean energy solutions like wind and solar, and abandon its massive coal welfare program. In the last year alone, the company spent nearly $4 billion in financing for the coal industry.
David Taylor, RAN's Online Organizer, delivered the below statement at San Francisco's City Hall today.
"Today I will speak of the crimes that Bank of America is committing against public and climate health through its relentless financial support of the coal industry.
"Many will speak today about the havoc that the nation’s largest banks have wreaked upon the economy. Others will speak to the devastation that foreclosures are bringing to our communities. On behalf of Rainforest Action Network, today I will speak of the crimes that Bank of America is committing against public and climate health through its relentless financial support of the coal industry.
"At every stage of its life, coal does serious damage. Coal is the number one contributor to climate change, is a leading cause of mercury pollution, and continues to scar mining communities in untold ways.
"Coal-fired power plants have been linked to developmental defects in 300,000 infants born at risk because of their mother's exposure to toxic mercury pollution to coal plants. Asthma rates are skyrocketing in communities exposed to particulates from burning coal, and now one out ten children suffers from asthma. While the U.S. government has taken some positive steps to mandate pollution controls, two thirds of coal-fired plants still lack the technology needed to keep toxic air pollution, like mercury, acid gases and arsenic, out of our air and water.
"Coal is also a threat to our economic security. In 2011, Harvard published a report that found that “the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually.
"Look at any part of the lifecycle of coal and you will find that Bank of America has a significant interest. The bank is involved in mountaintop removal mining, continuing the life of old, dirty coal plants, and developing efforts to ship coal overseas to willing buyers.
"Despite its stated commitment to contribute to a “low carbon economy,” Bank of America is the largest underwriter of the coal industry in the U.S., contributing $3.9 billion to the coal sector in 2010.More than any other bank, Bank of America is continuing to prop up a 19th century energy system at the exact time when the twin opportunities of job creation and the transition to a green economy are of paramount concerns.
"In closing, I urge the City of San Francisco to cut ties with Bank of America. This city and this state take pride in being ‘Green Leaders’. California has the strongest climate standard in the U.S. and San Francisco has passed significant measures to promote renewable energy generation, leading our nation on its necessary transition from fossil fuels to a truly sustainable energy future. This is diametrically opposed to Bank of America’s position. Our city’s finance should not be allowed to indirectly prop up the coal industry and contribute to poverty and pollution.
"It is well past time to move our money away from banks that do not reflect our values."
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