Bank once labeled “Bank of Coal” announces broad commitment scaling down financial involvement in coal mining globally
Charlotte, NC—Bank of America unveiled a new global coal mining policy today committing to reduce exposure to coal mining companies across the board. Bank of America’s Andrew Plepler announced the new policy at the bank’s annual shareholder meeting this morning in Charlotte, stating, "With regard to coal, over the past several years we have been gradually and consistently reducing our credit exposure to companies focused on coal mining. Our new policy...reflects our decision to continue to reduce our credit exposure over time to the coal mining sector globally.” The policy change comes after four years of campaigning from Rainforest Action Network and other groups, and is the strongest policy of its kind to date.
“Today’s announcement from Bank of America truly represents a sea change: it acknowledges the responsibility that the financial sector bears for supporting and profiting from the fossil fuel industry and the climate chaos it has caused,” said Rainforest Action Network Climate and Energy Program Director Amanda Starbuck. “In real terms, this means the bank is turning its back on the coal mining industry and committing to energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
In light of the new coal policy, Bank of America received a BBB grade on coal mining from Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, and the Sierra Club in the 2015 Coal Finance Report Card—the highest grade given to a bank to date in the report card. The 2015 report card, which was released Monday, cited the impending Bank of America policy change as a bright spot that other banks should emulate. The new Bank of America commitment states, “Bank of America will continue to reduce our credit exposure to coal extraction companies. This commitment applies globally, to companies focused on coal extraction and to divisions of diversified a mining companies that are focused on coal.”
“This is a challenge to other financial institutions,” said Starbuck. “We don’t need banks to change the lightbulbs at their corporate headquarters, we need them to stop bankrolling fossil fuels that are killing the climate.”
However, Bank of America received lower grades in coal-fired power and human rights, and Starbuck cautioned that Bank of America will have to live up to its commitments on coal-mining. “RAN will rigorously monitor the implementation of this policy and hold Bank of America to its word. We also hope other banks will go further than Bank of America went today. There are just a few short years left to prevent catastrophic damage from runaway climate change. We need to cut off the financial support for the coal industry—and we need to keep all fossil fuels in the ground.”
RAN announced its campaign targeting Bank of America in 2011, in light of the fact that Bank of America was considered the most resistant to changing its position on coal of all the major American investment banks. RAN, along with hundreds of allied groups, previously introduced shareholder resolutions at Bank of America annual meetings; worked with directly-impacted communities in the Powder River Basin, Appalachia, India, and Colombia to document environmental and human rights abuses related to Bank of America-backed coal mining companies; disrupted Bank of America recruitment efforts on campuses; organized direct action protests at Bank of America branch locations; and hung a “Bank of Coal” banner off the side of Bank of America stadium in Charlotte, NC, among many other tactics.
- To read the full Bank of America policy: http://bit.ly/1EXv0Ge
- 2015 Coal Finance Report Card, with grades for Bank of America: http://bit.ly/1cdZYzb
- Timeline of RAN’s campaign to push BofA, with photos and video: http://bit.ly/1FPrYEK
This morning, the EPA announced limits on carbon pollution from power plants. That's a welcome step in fighting climate change—and it wouldn't have happened without communities speaking out against coal plants. Here at RAN, we're proud of the role our network of friends and activists has played in building pressure over the last several years.
Stop TXU! Activists stage protests against financial institutions linked to Texas utility company TXU’s controversial plans to build 11 new coal-fired power plants as part of an expansion strategy that would make it the single largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter in the Unites States. Winter 2007. Photo: Andrew Stern.
University of Kentucky Fossil Fools Day. Students raise a wind turbine atop a coal mound as part of an action for Fossil Fools Day at University of Kentucky. April 1, 2008.
Wise Coal Action. Virginia residents and anti-coal activists form a blockade to disrupt the construction of Dominion's Wise County Coal-Fired Power Plant. September 2008.
Capitol Climate Action. Thousands of activists surround the Capitol Coal Plant in Washington DC to demand its retirement. March 2009.
Duke Energy's Cliffside Coal Plant. RAN activists holding a banner in front of Duke Energy's Cliffside coal plant in Cliffside, North Carolina. The banner action coincided with the release a new report, The Principle Matter: Banks, Climate & The Carbon Principles. January 2011.
Crawford Coal Plant Banner. Six activists with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), Rising Tide North America, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Backbone Campaign climbed the fence to Midwest Generation’s controversial Crawford coal plant in Little Village. The activists unfurled a 7' x 30' banner atop a 20-foot tall sprawling coal pile that feeds the power plant, which reads: "Close Chicago's Toxic Coal Plants." April 2011.
Stand with Pat: Tell BofA to Stop Funding Coal. Grandmothers Pat Moore and Beth Henry and seven others were arrested outside of four different Bank of America branches in Charlotte, NC delivering a simple yet urgent message to the bank: they must STOP funding coal. November 2012. Photo: © Paul Corbit Brown.
This month, Rainforest Action Network and three allies testified at Bank of America's annual shareholder meeting, urging them to drop coal, to stop profiting from environmental destruction and human rights abuses. We're posting the statements of our three allies. Add your voice by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change.
My name is Kemp Burdette. I am the Cape Fear Riverkeeper. I was born and raised along the Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina.
I want to describe to you the impacts that coal is having on the Cape Fear River, because Bank of America's financing of the coal industry, and specifically Duke Energy, is supporting the contamination of groundwater, the fouling of rivers, and the poisoning of drinking water supplies for nearly a million people in the Cape Fear watershed alone. Across North Carolina, the problem is even worse.
I’m sure you've heard about the Dan River coal ash spill.
You may not have heard about Duke's other discharge of coal ash waste water into the Cape Fear River. Less than two months ago Duke was caught illegally pumping over 61 million gallons of coal ash wastewater into the Cape Fear River—three times more wastewater than what spilled into the Dan River.
This was done above the drinking water intakes for 840,000 people, and it was done intentionally, although secretly and illegally, with no notification of the public or of state regulators.
In addition to catastrophic failures and illegal discharges, Duke's coal ash ponds have other problems—they leak like sieves into groundwater and surface waters. They leak 24 hours a day, seven days a week at every location across North Carolina.
In New Hanover County, selenium contamination from coal ash is deforming fish in a popular fishing lake.
Duke Energy and the State of North Carolina are currently under a federal investigation for inappropriate conduct and relations between state regulators and the company.
I would urge Bank of America to end its lending and underwriting of companies like Duke Energy. Duke's coal ash ponds will continue to fail. They will continue to leak. They will continue to poison water supplies. They will continue to destroy the environment. Coal is, and will continue to be, very, very risky business.
Stand with Kemp and RAN by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change.