Thanks to your pressure, several of the world’s largest banks have said “no” to financing a huge coal project that would put Australia’s Great Barrier Reef at risk.1 But now, news reports have revealed that the U.S. government’s Export-Import Bank is considering financing this destructive project.2
This is an outrage: The U.S. government should be investing in climate solutions, not throwing coal a financial lifeline and trashing a global treasure such as the Great Barrier Reef. Even Wall Street thinks the coal industry's plan to build a giant coal port in the middle of the reef is too toxic to fund; late last year, thanks to your activism, Rainforest Action Network secured commitments to steer clear of the project from four of the biggest investment banks on Wall Street. Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs all provided RAN with written promises to stay away from this climate- and reef-killing project.3 If this project is beyond the pale for Wall Street's biggest banks, there's no excuse for the U.S. government to commit taxpayer money to destroy the reef and turbocharge climate change.
We know that our pressure can help to stop the coal industry’s reef destruction. Thanks to your pressure, major banks have publicly committed not to fund this project, because it would be a disaster for the climate, the reef, and their bottom lines. Not only would this perpetuate climate chaos, the proposed Abbot Point expansion could threaten the breeding grounds of endangered green and loggerhead turtles.4 Now, it is time to use our voices to prevent the U.S. government from financing reef destruction.
Momentum is building to stop the coal industry from damaging the Great Barrier Reef. President Obama recently spoke out at a summit, urging Australia to protect the reef.5 Hundreds of thousands of global citizens have spoken out against reef destruction, and a group of ten European and U.S. banks has already walked away from the project. Now we need to make sure the U.S. government says “no” to coal port expansion in the Great Barrier Reef.
As an agency of the U.S. federal government, the Export-Import Bank’s mission is to finance the sale of U.S.-made products, not to finance foreign-owned coal ports across the world. If we speak up, Export-Import Bank chairman Fred Hochberg will hear us. Late last year, Hochberg urged the public to submit feedback about how the bank is doing. Now is the time to send a clear message that the taxpayer-supported Export-Import bank needs to stay away from the coal industry’s Great Barrier Reef destruction.
1. "US Banks baulk at Abbot Point coal port expansion", The Australian, October 28, 2014
2. "Adani lines up $1 bln Indian state bank loan for Australian coal venture", Reuters, November 17, 2014
3. "US banks vow not to fund Great Barrier Reef coal port, activists say", The Guardian, October 27, 2014
4. "Great Barrier Reef", United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
5. "Barack Obama confronts Australia over climate change", The Telegraph, November 15, 2014
I am alarmed at reports that the U.S. Export-Import Bank is considering funding Australia’s Abbot Point coal port expansion. The port expansion and the coal mines that would feed it would gravely damage the Great Barrier Reef and accelerate climate change. The resultant dredging and ship traffic would threaten one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, a global treasure that is under protection as a World Heritage Site. The deal would pave the way to double coal production in Australia -- already one of the world’s biggest coal exporters -- in the midst of a climate emergency. Under no circumstances should U.S. taxpayer dollars fund this reckless and destructive project. Please make a public commitment not to bankroll the Abbot Point coal port expansion and associated rail and mine infrastructure.
The coal industry is embarking on a project that would do grave damage to the Great Barrier Reef by massively expanding the port at Abbot Point and building new coal mines in Queensland, Australia. The resultant dredging and ship traffic would devastate this delicate ecosystem, a global treasure that is under protection as a World Heritage Site. Additionally, the proposed Abbot Point expansion could threaten the breeding grounds of endangered green and loggerhead turtles.
The climate impacts would be catastrophic, as building out Abbot Point would mean a dramatic expansion of coal mining in Australia's Galilee Basin, one of the world's largest stores of carbon. The planned mega-mines would be among the largest in Australia, and would dramatically increase greenhouse gas pollution.
The coal industry needs international bank funding to make their reckless new project happen. Many global banks have already said “no” to financing the project. As a result of campaigning from Rainforest Action Network, U.S. banks Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have already ruled out financing for Abbot Point. Leading European investment banks, including HSBC, Barclays, and Deutsche Bank have made similar commitments.
Call on the U.S. Export-Import Bank to do the same.
Adani lines up $1 billion SBI loan for Australian coal venture, Reuters, November 17 2014
Great Barrier Reef protection plan 'ignores the threat of climate change', The Guardian, October 27 2014
Great Barrier Reef, Unesco
“This decision does nothing to alter the fundamental facts on Keystone. Not only does the pipeline present dire threats to Indigenous communities, ranchers, and the Ogallala aquifer, it miserably fails the administration’s own climate test. The millions of people who have joined the movement to stop this pipeline are looking to President Obama right now to choose the only option compatible with a stable climate: immediate rejection.”
Yesterday was a watershed moment in our fight to stop Keystone XL. Following weeks of criticism of the pipeline from President Obama, the White House confirmed that the president will veto Republican legislation to approve Keystone.1 That's great news for the climate and for our communities—and a huge victory for the #NoKXL movement. Now it's time for the president to reject the pipeline once and for all.
President Obama's veto threat is a testament to the dedication and resolve of millions of grassroots activists like you who have for years fought to stop this pipeline, against all odds. Together our movement has marched, written letters, sat in at the White House and along the route of the pipeline, and self-organized a large-scale network ready to do whatever it takes to win a rejection on Keystone. Thank you for your commitment.
Yesterday's announcement is the direct result of all of that hard work, and a milestone on the path to killing this pipeline for good. Now, let's take the next step, and push President Obama to reject Keystone once and for all.
The veto threat is welcome news, but our work isn't finished yet. The new Republican Congress has pledged to keep Keystone at the top of its agenda. Meanwhile, the White House says it's waiting for the results of the State Department approval process before making a final decision.
Enough. President Obama has all the information he needs to do the right thing and reject the pipeline today. He has said that he won't approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it significantly increases carbon pollution.2 Well, the evidence is in, and it is overwhelming: Keystone XL utterly fails the climate test. In fact, the pipeline would light the fuse to the continent’s biggest carbon bomb. It would kill any hope for keeping climate change within two degrees of warming. Any spill would devastate communities along the pipeline route, contaminate drinking water, and wreck delicate ecosystems.
President Obama's veto threat is a huge step in the right direction, but it's not enough. We need him to finish the job and issue a clear "no" on this disastrous project now. Call on him to reject the Keystone XL pipeline today.
1. "Obama Will Veto Keystone XL Legislation, White House Says", NPR, January 6, 2015
2. "Obama Won't Approve Keystone Pipeline Unless It Passes New Test", National Journal, June 26, 2013
President Obama has promised to veto proposed legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline. That’s great news, and a huge victory for the #NoKXL movement. Now it’s time for the president to reject the pipeline once and for all.
Thank you for promising to veto proposed legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Now I’m writing to ask you to reject the pipeline once and for all.
The evidence is in, and it is overwhelming: Keystone XL utterly fails the climate test that you set, when you affirmed that the project would go ahead only if it didn’t significantly increase carbon pollution. In fact, the pipeline would light the fuse to the continent’s biggest carbon bomb and kill any hope for keeping climate change within two degrees of warming. Any spill would devastate communities along the pipeline route, contaminate drinking water and wreck delicate ecosystems.
Your veto promise is a huge step in the right direction, but it's not enough. We need you to finish the job and issue a clear "no" on this disastrous project now. I urge you to reject the Keystone XL pipeline today.
People gonna rise with the water,
We're gonna calm this crisis down,
I hear the voice of my great grand-daughter,
Saying "shut down Wall Street now!"
I’m really grateful. I’m really grateful to be part of a mass movement that dreams big and takes bold action.
Back in September, I woke up on a crisp clear New York morning and joined 3,000 people to shut down the city's financial district as a part of Flood Wall Street.
Responding to a call from the Climate Justice Alliance for civil disobedience actions to add urgency to the People’s Climate Mobilization, New York organizers issued an invitation to Flood Wall Street. As both the symbolic and literal epicenter of global capitalism, Wall Street’s main players were to be held accountable for funding the current climate crisis as well as actively opposing organized efforts to wean our economy off fossil fuels.
That morning, we gathered at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from Wall Street, with the aim of disrupting business as usual. Opinion-makers like Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges, Rebecca Solnit, as well as leaders from frontline communities from around the world spoke to the crowd while organizers convened tactical meetings, lawyers gave legal briefs and people organized into affinity groups. My (fairly large) affinity group that day was constituted of RAN co-workers and friends from Utah, North Carolina, Philadelphia and New York. We were part of a second block that moved into the street as soon as fences were dismantled. The entire march swarmed into Broadway from Battery Park. Thousands surrounded the Wall Street bull and sat in. The occupation quickly turned into a festival of resistance with songs, chants, the deployment of a 300 foot long banner and a bouncing carbon bubble (later popped on the bull's horn by the NYPD).
We occupied Broadway for the morning and afternoon, and then moved towards the streets that led to the stock exchange on Wall Street. Riot police had barricaded the entrance to Wall Street and activists tried to move past their formations. Eventually, Flood Wall Street entered into a multi-hour stand-off with the police that led to about 100 people being arrested after they refused to leave the street.
On September 22nd, we created a convergence of movement spaces that empower climate justice activists to fight back against power-holders and be critical of existing institutions while building solidarity and our own power. Most importantly we facilitated a bigger and bolder action for North American climate and climate justice movements. Organizers set out to bring the anti-establishment climate movement to the streets of New York. Just as anti-extraction activists had blockaded oil trains in Washington and Oregon and tar sands fighters had stopped work on the Utah tar sands, Flood Wall Street disrupted business as usual for the financial district of the world’s largest economy.
In 2014, leading global banks began to turn away from financing mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. For years, RAN and other organizations in Appalachia and around the world have warned banks of the severe human and environmental consequences of financing MTR coal. And finally, banks have begun to respond.
This year, building on commitments from two US banks, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, several other banks indicated that they would not finance the largest MTR producers. As of this spring, the French bank BNP Paribas had made a similar commitment, followed by the UK-based Royal Bank of Scotland in late Spring. Then, in August, the Swiss bank, UBS indicated that it too would no longer finance major MTR producers. Look for more banks to follow suit in early 2015.
Also in 2014, the environmental and health impacts of MTR became even harder for banks and coal companies to ignore. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice reached a record-setting $227.5 million settlement with Alpha Natural Resources over water contamination at 79 mine sites, which included several MTR mines. Additionally, a study published in October added to a growing body of scientific evidence linking mountaintop removal mining to severe health impacts. The study, conducted by researchers at West Virginia University, found that dust from MTR sites promoted lung cancer tumor growth.
Financially, the bottom fell out for the U.S. coal industry this year. Facing a trend of U.S. coal plant retirements and stubbornly low coal prices, MTR producers idled, sold, or spun-off mines, and one even filed for bankruptcy. Globally, coal producers fared little better in 2014, facing a sustained slump in global coal prices, fierce competition from renewable energy sources, and broad-based opposition to new coal mines and coal-fired power stations.
Undaunted by this environmental, human, and financial turmoil, a few banks have stubbornly clung on to their financing relationships with MTR producers. For example, Deutsche Bank extracted $2.7 million in fees this year from bankrupt James River Coal for investment banking services. Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly clear that both MTR producers and the broader coal industry are in deep trouble. As Bob Burton of RenewEconomy noted in his retrospective on 2014, “[e]ach defeat or delay for coal projects, each new scandal or coal-caused disaster, each new report documenting coal’s toll on human health and every incremental fall in the cost of wind and solar brings the coal industry’s day of reckoning ever closer.”
It has been two years since we lost our dear friend Becky Tarbotton, and two years since the environmental movement lost a rare and visionary force.
We still miss Becky every day. And we still feel her influence and her energy throughout our offices and throughout all of our work.
For me, this connection is very personal – Becky was the person who hired me on at RAN. And she did so in her own inimitable and intense fashion. What I thought was going to be a drawn out process was instead one face-to-face meeting followed by a phone call just hours before I was to board an international flight. She was offering me a chance to lead the campaign against Cargill and the fight to save the most rapidly disappearing rainforests on the planet.
“If you want to take on the largest private company in the world,” she said, “here is your opportunity. Take it or leave it but I need to know soon.” This meant my first day on the job would be getting on a plane to Indonesia and jumping into the deep end of what would become a seven-year battle.
But that was her leadership style – one of conviction, confidence and audacity. She embodied the belief within this organization that we cannot only settle for what’s possible. We have to strive for what’s necessary.
She is even quoted on the opening page of Naomi Klein’s latest book. Becky’s quote not only speaks to the imperative and urgent nature of the issues we face, but also illuminates the incredible person behind it.
“We need to remember that the work of our time is bigger than climate change. We need to be setting our sights higher and deeper. What we’re really talking about, if we’re honest with ourselves, is transforming everything about the way we live on this planet.”
That is the will and the drive and the vision that continues to push us forward. That is the audacity and the inspiration of Becky. And that is to what we aspire everyday at RAN.
I would like to think she would be proud of the year we’ve had and the work we’ve continued in her name.
But most of all, I would like to say to her once again, Thank you.
Your voice was heard.
For communities of the Pacific Northwest, 2014 started off with some good news. On January 7, Goldman Sachs sold off its share in SSA Marine, the corporation behind a colossal coal export terminal proposal near Bellingham, Washington that threatens to ruin the rich biodiversity and unique cultural legacy found in the region. If built, the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point would be the largest proposed coal export terminal in the country, with up to 18 mile-long coal trains traveling through local communities every day and nearly 48 million tons of coal exported to Asian markets each year.
Goldman Sachs’ move away from SSA Marine and their coal terminal came after coal companies and their proponents tabled or dropped three out of six proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest in the previous two years.
And it would not have happened without you. Starting in 2011, RAN, along with ally organizations and thousands of concerned citizens, called on Goldman Sachs to quit this coal export terminal. By raising our voices about this egregious project and by continually calling out the U.S. banking sector for investing in coal, we showed Goldman Sachs that the Gateway Pacific Terminal was just too hot to handle.
Goldman Sachs’ action was the perfect signal that the terminal’s threats to the climate, human rights, thriving Tribal fisheries and biodiversity in the sensitive Puget Sound marine environment are just too grave to ignore. Proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest would result in almost as much carbon pollution as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. And if the coal companies can’t sell their product abroad, they will be forced to keep it in the ground.
A day for giving thanks followed by two days of commercialized holiday madness has passed. Together, let’s reject the corporatized holiday season and help us build the movement of generosity!
Here at RAN, we work hard day in and day out to fight climate change and protect rainforests and those that depend on them by challenging corporate power.
We hope you will join us this holiday season, and consider making a gift to Rainforest Action Network and support our work to ensure people and planet are placed over corporate profit.