Pages tagged "mining"


The True Cost of Coal

(Photo: Emrah Gurel, AP) This week a double tragedy has struck the coal mining industry.

On Monday night in West Virginia, a coal outburst at a Patriot-operated mine killed two miners. And on Tuesday an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Western Turkey  killed at least 245, with hundreds more still missing.

Our hearts and minds are with the miners and their families.

These disasters underscore the horrific cost of “cheap” and dirty energy.  Miners’ deaths such as these are preventable. We call on coal companies to immediately improve labor conditions, and on the governments of Turkey and the United States to strengthen their regulatory oversight of the coal industry.

At the same time, here at Rainforest Action Network, we are reflecting on the less noticed human cost of coal.  Every year, more than one million people die of the air pollution that comes from burning coal. 150,000 more die from the extreme weather events aggravated by climate change–and coal is the single biggest driver of global warming.

All of this points to an obvious conclusion. We must not continue to make these sacrifices in order to produce energy from such a dirty and unsustainable source. Coal is a dangerous and outdated fuel, and in the 21st century we should not be using it to power our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. It is past time for us to shift our energy production to clean, safe renewable power.


5 Ways Our Network Is Saving the Planet

nokxl sf vigilDear friends, Early in the New Year, I received a text concerning my two nieces that read, “We are all safe but leaving town—state of Emergency declared in Charleston as a result of coal chemical spilled into river.” Although I’m very aware of the impacts coal has on the health of people and planet, the reality of it hitting so close to home has me more fired up than ever about the work Rainforest Action Network has to do this year. So far the chemical spill in West Virginia is a story about a completely preventable accident, but it’s my belief that it will also be a story of organizing, resisting corporate control and bringing the end of coal even closer. It was a spill that happened just weeks before the release of the State Department’s final environmental assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline which gives President Obama all the room he needs to prevent the disasters that we will see should he approve the Keystone XL pipeline. I believe in my core that the only way we can tackle the challenges we face is by fully leveraging our entire network. This year, I’m committed and excited to share RAN’s thinking, listen to your input and find ways for you to engage more deeply in our work. In 2014 we will work harder than ever to keep fossil fuels in the ground, forests standing and communities thriving. This year we are resolved to focus on five key areas that are vital for our planet: 1) Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline We will not accept the development of a pipeline that threatens to lock in an estimated one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime. Last year, RAN teamed up with CREDO and The Other 98% to launch the “Pledge of Resistance,” making clear their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. To date, over 76,000 people have pledged to take peaceful direct action in their communities to resist the Keystone XL pipeline, and RAN has helped to train and build a community of hundreds of action leaders across the country.  And it doesn’t end with President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. At RAN we believe this level of engagement must be the new norm for our movement to ensure that not only do we stop this project, but that we are prepared to stop dirty energy projects that would follow. 2)   Remove Conflict Palm Oil from our Food In rainforests half a world away, orangutans are making their last stand against extinction — scientists believe that they could be extinct in the wild in our lifetime. But the threat to their survival lies much closer to home. You’ll find it hidden in the snack food aisle of your local grocery store — and in your shopping cart. To grow cheap palm oil, America’s snack food brands are driving the last wild orangutans to extinction, enslaving children and destroying rainforests that are critical to maintaining a stable climate. As thoughtful consumers, we have the power to make them listen. Our strategy is working. This year we will continue negotiating with consumer brand companies to develop or improve palm oil procurement policies for 100% traceable and responsible palm oil and will continue to push for improvements from the largest U.S importer of palm oil, Cargill. Every time we sign a petition or sticker foods that contain Conflict Palm Oil, we bring more attention to this incredibly important issue, and we give more power to our movement. 3)   Challenge Bank of America to Stop Financing Climate Change. The five largest American banks are among the most significant global underwriters of the coal industry, and therefore global climate change emissions. In spite of the human and environmental costs of coal as well as the growing financial risks associated with investments in the coal industry, Bank of America alone has invested billions and maintained its position as the largest funder of coal. Bank of America and other U.S. banks have been slow to address this risk, lagging behind their European counterparts. We will work to pressure banks to account for their financed emissions by adopting climate policies at least as strong as the European banks. This autumn, we worked with students on 35 campuses to challenge Bank of America graduate recruitment programs. Hundreds of students showed up at 65 information sessions and interviews to declare, “We won’t work for climate chaos.” Now that we have the bank’s attention, we’re working to improve its policies and move funding away from climate-destroying enterprises. 4)   End the Use of Paper Made from Rainforests Last year, one of the largest paper companies in the world, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) released its rainforest protection commitments, a major first step for a company that has a history of destructive practices when it comes to rainforests and human rights. Over the past year, RAN has helped to strengthen APP’s commitments while working with groups on the ground to make sure that implementation is happening in the forest. While a policy on paper is an important step, we are working to make sure that the bulldozers remain idle and communities are given a voice in decisions about their lands. Until APP implements changes that can guarantee rainforests and communities are protected, we will use our market leverage to ensure large corporate customers understand that it is too soon to resume business with APP. 5)   Provide Small Grants to Local Communities Fighting for the Planet Over the past ten years, RAN’s Small Grants program has distributed more than a million dollars to Indigenous-led and local grassroots organizations to help secure protection for millions of acres of traditional territory in forests around the world and to help defend their communities and their environment from the fossil fuel industry. In 2014 we hope to expand our Small Grants program and increase the amount of money going directly to communities. This year our goal is to distribute $173,000 to communities fighting to defend our planet. At RAN we know we need to set ever-more audacious goals if we’re going to advocate for forests, the climate and communities. Which is why I’m asking you to join us on our ambitious journey into 2014, because we can’t accomplish any of these things without your support.  Visit our Take Action page to learn more about how you can be a part of this important movement. You are the Network that gives me strength to sit across the table from CEOs of corporate giants like Bank of America and Cargill and demand more than modest or incremental changes. This is the time for bold action, and I’m drawing you closer because you’re crucial to us accomplishing what is necessary for forests, people and planet. Now that I’ve shared what I want to fight for in 2014, I’d like to ask you to share what you are committed to doing for people and planet this year. Tweet me your ideas at @lrallen. I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities that lie ahead of us this year, and am honored to be on this journey with you. For people and planet in 2014, Lindsey

Why You Should Give A Sh*t That Water In West Virginia Is Contaminated

Lindsey and nieces in West VirginiaAs I wrote last week, my two nieces live in Charleston, WV. Although their water has now been cleared as “safe,” they continue to have no clean water to drink. So, as you can imagine, I’m pissed. But there are a few reasons why I’m pissed. And it didn’t start with the unbelievable quote from West Virginia's Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who said, "I'm not going to say absolutely, 100 percent that everything is safe. But what I can say is if you do not feel comfortable, don't use it." It was frustrating to see most major media outlets perpetuate the illusion that, once water was deemed safe by officials, things could return to normal—contradicting actual residents who continued to find the chemicals in their tap water despite repeatedly flushing their pipes. (Send a letter to your local newspaper and demand they tell the full story!) It was frustrating to realize that a lack of regulations helped create this disaster, which was completely preventable. However, I’m most pissed that this is just one obvious example of the true price we pay for our dependence on coal. Unfortunately, coal-related water contamination in Appalachia is not a new story or a unique occurrence. In the rural hollers of West Virginia, dozens of communities have already had their water poisoned, because toxic waste from mountaintop removal coal mining has seeped into aquifers, irreversibly ruining wells that people have used for generations. A 2012 study found that 14 counties in West Virginia had water that did not meet safe drinking water standards. In counties where mining occurred, water was seven times worse than in counties without mining. In addition, contamination of watersheds in West Virginia is part of the reason why so many people depend on a single water source. Runaway coal contamination is possible because of a lack of regulations to ensure safe drinking water and because, for a century, the coal industry’s profit margin has been put ahead of people—and our water. When we look more broadly at health impacts, a recent Harvard study estimated the annual health expenses associated with coal over its entire lifecycle cost the U.S. $500 billion a year and lead to more than 13,000 premature deaths. 1622206_10152183068710960_547899835_nNational headlines last week shone a rare public light on one of the most severe and under-reported American environmental crises of our times. The tragic water crisis still underway in West Virginia, caused by a massive coal chemical spill that poisoned water supplies for at least 300,000 people, is just another cry from the canary telling us that coal is not a solution for our energy needs. The emergency water shut-off last week spanned nine counties and shut down the state’s capital city for four days. But most disturbing is that this recent tragedy was both predictable and preventable. Sadly, it offers a somber preview for what we can expect to see more of in the future if major changes are not finally made immediately. Rainforest Action Network is no stranger to the many impacts of coal on the communities in West Virginia. We have been working to defend the people, forests and watersheds in Central Appalachia for years. But this last summer, the issue became deeply personal for me. I travel to WV not only to visit family, but also to see firsthand the impacts of one of the most extreme coal extraction methods on the planet, where entire mountaintops are blown off to expose coal seams below. The resulting toxic waste is then dumped into neighboring valleys—irreversibly destroying the function of the local watershed. While in Appalachia last summer, I felt the Earth shudder under my feet as mountains nearby were being blown up just a short distance from the home of our local host, Paul Corbit Brown of Pax, WV. Paul is a seventh-generation West Virginian whose home is adjacent to an active mountaintop removal coal mining site. His family has been forced to deal with the deadly impacts of reckless coal extraction for decades. Paul made it clear to me that while the government of West Virginia has bent over backwards for the coal industry in his state, it has done little to nothing to protect the region’s people, who have suffered its devastating consequences. While visiting, I literally saw streams flowing bright orange from upstream coal mining contamination, and witnessed the emergency health crises people face every day: high cancer rates, cases of life-threatening “black lung” disease and limited access to clean water. Earlier this month, just after news of the spill broke, Paul explained that the chemical that leaked has been used to process coal for a long time in West Virginia. In fact, its effluent has been stored in more than 100 unlined pits and been injected into abandoned mines that now contaminate the area’s aquifers, forcing people to abandon wells that once provided safe drinking water. (Some former West Virginia coal miners have come forward to say the same thing.) The people in Appalachia have been forced to endure the toxic impacts of the coal industry for far too long already. This incident cannot be seen as an isolated event. Every time we flick on the switch from coal energy, we should be reminded about the true cost of coal, a burden that people at the point of extraction, like West Virginia, and at the point of burning, such as neighborhoods in the shadow of coal-fired power plants, feel disproportionately. The numbers are staggering. U.S. $500 billion a year in health care costs foisted on us by a coal industry unwilling to pay for the impacts of its business operations? Are more than 13,000 premature deaths the price we should have to pay for coal industry profits? ”It’s tragic that it takes an event like this to awaken us to reality,” said my friend Paul. “No industry should have the right to profit at the expense of another human being's life. I remind you: There cannot be a healthy economy without clean water.” As this crisis in West Virginia has brought the impacts of extreme coal extraction to our collective attention, let us now take the bold steps needed to move away from dangerous coal energy altogether, and move instead toward safer, cleaner energy choices. The next time I talk to my nieces about the future, instead of just discussing basic regulation that will better prevent coal chemicals from leaking into major water supplies, I’d rather discuss the transition away from coal so that climate change, water contamination and health problems can be prevented. Let’s not treat the symptom—let’s support the cure. If you are as pissed as I am please consider joining the over 500 people who have taken action by sending a letter to their local newspaper requesting they cover the full story on coal impacts on our water and beyond.

Ignoring Human Rights Abuses and Coal’s Uncertain Future, Big Banks Line Up for Piece of World’s Largest Coal Miner

HarshadBarveGPThis is a guest post by Ashish Fernandes, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace. Green is in on Wall Street. Or so you’d think, if you believe the sustainability policies of some of the United States’ biggest banks. Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley all have paid lip service to environmental sustainability and the transition to a low carbon future. And yet these same institutions all lined up for a piece of Coal India Limited, one of the world’s largest coal miners, and perpetrator of environmental and social injustice in some of India’s poorest regions, showing that when it comes to issues of justice and sustainability, they all have a long way to go when it comes to walking the talk. The government of India intends to sell 5% of its stake in Coal India, hoping to raise over a billion dollars in the international markets. Reports from India indicate that Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank are going to help raise that money, by managing the share sale. The previous share offer in 2010 attracted over two billion dollars in international capital, but given the company’s struggles since then, and a global downturn for coal, this time it might not be such an easy sell. Coal India Limited is one of the largest coal miners in the world, and almost all of its coal comes from destructive open pit mines, most of them in forest regions of Central and Eastern India. Forests that tribal communities depend on for their daily livelihood. The same forests that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, and that today still harbor tigers, leopards, sloth bears and elephants. When Coal India descends on these remote locations, what follows is predictable: tribals displaced and left with no source of livelihood, forced to move into cement and tin boxes that serve as houses, forests clear-felled, streams and rivers fouled. A few of the displaced might be “lucky” enough to get manual labour jobs in the pit that replaces their forest. Their children often end up working along side them or scavenging coal to sell in the informal market—a shocking violation of India’s child labor and safety laws. This company’s business model is devastating: destroy forests and endangered wildlife, uproot ancient tribal cultures, forcibly displace those who refuse to move, replace aforementioned forests/cultures with an industrial wasteland. Above all, don’t let respect for human rights or the environment come in the way. All this to produce coal, the burning of which is responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths a year in India. This is the company that Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and others are so eager to lend their services to. If ethical and environmental reasons aren’t enough to steer clear of coal, there are serious financial risks that Coal India poses to any investor. The company’s stock price has nosedived. Production continues to lag far behind demand. The government of India continues to subsidize coal by keeping the prices artificially low even as cost of production increases, meaning that the share price is likely to remain under pressure and shareholder value is not unlocked. The financial problems faced by coal are not particular to India, but are part of a larger global shift. Goldman Sachs itself has predicted that coal is going to be eroded by environmental regulations, renewable energies and energy efficiency, warning that the window for profitable investments in coal is rapidly closing. Right now, the CEOs of Bank of America and Goldman Sachs are probably figuring out how to spin their involvement with Coal India while continuing to claim a commitment to social justice and a more sustainable, low carbon economy. They will probably trot out the tired myths about the poor in the developing world having no choice but to rely on coal—but here’s the thing: That lie no longer works. Clean energy from wind power and the sun are now almost as cheap (and in some cases cheaper) as new coal, with mainstream research from the likes of HSBC predicting that coal will be as expensive as solar photovoltaics within 5 years. Others have a tighter timeframe of 3-4 years. The moral justification for supporting coal in India has been demolished. And the financial case for moving capital out of the coal sector has never been stronger. Will the big banks read the writing on the wall?   AshishAshish Fernandes is US-India Climate Adviser with Greenpeace. His work highlights the often-ignored environmental, social and financial risks inherent in the Indian coal sector, to drive home the message that India's reliance on coal is a problem for individual companies, investors, the economy and the country at large. Prior to his work on coal, he focused on issues of deforestation and ocean protection in India, and has 15 years of experience in the environmental sector with a range of non-profits and media outlets.

Indonesian Forest Protections Under Attack

I wish I didn't have to write this blog post on Earth Day. The rainforest where I saw my first wild orangutan is under threat. I can't believe it! There are many reasons to protect the Leuser Protected Ecosystem, a forest area on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Thousands of Indigenous people rely on the forest for their lives and livelihoods, and it is the last place on Earth where endangered species like the Sumatran orangutan and the Sumatran tiger coexist with elephants, rhinos, and Sunbears. But the government of Aceh, the province in which the Leuser Protected Ecosystem lies, is considering a plan that would remove large regions of forest from the protected area, opening them up to palm oil and pulp plantations, logging, mining, and all of the roads and other infrastructure that come with them. The Indonesian government is now considering the plan, and has the power to reject it. We need to be making sure that what’s left of the world’s rainforests are protected, not opening them to destructive industries seeking to profit from rainforest destruction. Send Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry Hadi Daryanto an email now calling on them to reject this misguided plan and keep the Leuser Protected Ecosystem protected. Of course, it’s not just local communities and wildlife that need to be protected from bulldozers and forest fires. Indonesia’s rainforests are a valuable carbon sink—destroying them would make our climate problem that much worse, imperiling the future of everyone on this planet just to enrich a few well-connected businessmen. Urge the President of Indonesia and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry to protect local communities, endangered species, and the climate now.

KI Nation Paddles 300 km to Protect their Wild Watershed

[caption id="attachment_19804" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="KI Indigenous Nation Watershed. Photo by Allan Lissner."][/caption] Canada's Boreal forest is part of the world’s largest land-based carbon storehouse. It is also the world’s greatest reservoir of fresh water, and is among the largest unlogged forests left on the planet. But the Boreal has been under threat for years, and, as is often the case, local Indigenous peoples who live in and off of the forest are on the front line defending this majestic forest. The people of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), in particular, are doing some pretty inspiring work. Through our relationship with Earthroots, an Ontario, Canada-based grassroots organization, and RAN’s role as a grantmaking advisor to Global Greengrants Fund, RAN has helped provide $10,000 in support over the last few years towards the KI Indigenous Nation’s efforts to protect their vast 13,025 square km watershed in a roadless area of Boreal forest. The above mentioned grants helped support KI’s successful blockade and campaign that resulted in mining company Platinex leaving their territory, as well as a comprehensive consultation process resulting in a Watershed Declaration, which places the entire watershed off limits to industry under KI's Indigenous Law and a establishes the process required to secure KI consent prior to any decision being made affecting their lands and resources. Starting this week, the KI Nation invites you to follow a team of paddlers embarking on a two-week, 300 km canoe expedition along an ancient trading route from their remote fly-in community to Hudson’s Bay. The paddlers aim to raise awareness about the need to fully implement the KI Watershed Declaration. The community has already successfully pressured the Ontario government to withdraw approximately half of the watershed from all mining activity, and now they're calling on the Province to expand that decision to the full wild Fawn River watershed. En route on the canoe expedition they will use satellites to transmit blogs, photos, and audio to thousands of supporters via social media portals as they share the landscape with threatened woodland caribou, wolves, sturgeon, polar bears, beluga whales and the iconic northern lights. You can follow their journey, join the KI Support Facebook page and call on the Ontario government to respect KI’s demands to govern their territory and protect their land and water from unwanted mining. “The KI people have protected our entire home watershed through Indigenous Law,” said KI Chief Donny Morris. “Now we are calling on Ontario to respect our protection before this sacred landscape is poisoned by the diamond, gold, and metals mining companies who have set their sights on it.”

Bank of America’s New Report Touts Green Image, Downplays Dirty Emissions

This morning Bank of America rolled out its annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, which proudly promotes the company’s commitment to greening their public image but fails to address its biggest environmental impact: financing the coal industry. Bank of America wants to have it both ways: The bank wants to appear as a responsible corporate actor, but still benefit from destructive coal mining and coal-fired utilities. Its CSR report reeks of hypocrisy as it profits at the expense of communities and our environment while also identifying itself as a climate champion. [caption id="attachment_19335" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="Like and share this image on Facbeook! Just click the image to be taken straight to FB."][/caption] Bank of America claims to be “working to finance the transition to a lower-carbon future”, yet commitments to renewable energy and energy efficiency only make progress towards greening its own image. To stem the impending climate crisis, however, the burning of coal must be phased out of the U.S. energy grid. According to its CSR report, Bank of America acknowledges the impact of these investments by reporting on emissions of utilities in its lending portfolio. However, the bank’s reporting methodology is flawed and non-transparent. As it has in the past, the bank only reports on emissions from 75% of its utility portfolio, providing an incomplete assessment of emissions associated with the bank’s lending activities. Without full disclosure, it remains unclear whether the bank is actually shifting its lending away from the most coal-intensive utilities or whether the bank’s lending practices have lagged a national shift away from coal-fired power generation and towards cleaner alternatives. Bank of America’s Environmental Business Initiative, while a step in the right direction, is insufficient to offset the environmental damage caused by its lending practices. The $3.65 billion lending component of BofA’s 2011 commitment represents less than half a percent of the bank’s total loans and leases as of December 2011 ($926 billion). In contrast, the bank charged off more than five times as much in bad debt during 2011 ($20.8 billion). Were the bank to offset the emissions from its utility portfolio in 2011, we estimate that the cost would far exceed this $3.65 billion amount. This report fails to address Bank of America’s position as the number one underwriter of the coal mining industry or report plans for reducing fossil fuel investments. In fact, the record shows increases in spending. In 2010 and 2011, Bank of America provided $6.4 billion in underwriting for U.S. coal. Bank of America has its hands in a dirty business, where the drive for profit outweighs consequences like human and environmental catastrophes associated with climate change. The bank is the largest financier of the coal industry in the U.S., and funds every stage of coal’s life cycle­. It spends billions each year underwriting destructive mountaintop removal mining and utilities that operate coal-burning power plants. It’s time for Bank of America to phase out funding for the coal industry. The impacts on the climate and public health make it a dangerous investment. Bank of America’s best course forward would be to end its investment in fossil fuels. Check out this video of people who traveled to Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting to explain to the bank the impacts of its financing of the coal industry in their communities: [youtube TsMB2CuP3zM 550]

Deadly Violence Against Environmentalists On The Rise Worldwide

[caption id="attachment_19315" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Yoli Oquely Veliz leading resistance against EXMINGUA Gold Mine"]Resistance Against EXMINGUA Gold Mine[/caption] “We all stand before history.“- Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed for environmental advocacy, Nigeria, Nov. 10, 1995 What the hell is going on out there? I know a lot people targeted by our federal government and corporate private security for their organizing work. We’ve got the FBI targeting environmentalists, anarchists and Occupiers as “terrorists.” Homeland Security leads crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street. In Rising Tide circles, we’ve got the feds investigating campaigns fighting fracking and tar sands heavy hauls. Not to mention the shadowy private security surveillance of oil companies and banks watching us. BUT, thus far, we’ve not faced with assassination like environmental and human rights organizers, journalists and community members in many parts of the Global South. (Although I worry about the levels of threat and violence I see escalating in places like Appalachia and Wyoming.) However, the violence against environmentalists outside the U.S. has been increasing. London-based Global Witness just published a new report saying that, in the decade ending in 2011, more than 700 people (more than one a week) died while “defending their human rights or the rights of others related to the environment, specifically land and forests.” In 2010, 96 environmentalists were murdered. In 2011, the number killed was 106. A large portion has been concentrated in Brazil, Columbia and Peru, with large numbers also coming out of the Philippines. All have been bloody campaigns between Indigenous groups and powerful industries. They were killed, the environmental investigation group says, during protests or investigations into mining, logging, intensive agriculture, hydropower dams, urban development and wildlife poaching. Just last week, an anti-mining activist, Yolanda “Yoli” Oquely Veliz, who was fighting Canadian-owned Radius Gold, was shot while leaving a community blockade near a gold mine entrance in San José del Golfo, Guatemala. She survived being shot three times (at least last I heard), but is in critical condition. Over the past couple of years, there have been many more instances of deadly violence in Central America and southern Mexico around mining and logging campaigns. In the U.S., as groups like RAN and Greenpeace plan and carry out daring actions on coal plants, cranes and other high-rise structures; as grassroots groups militantly block mining and logging operations with road blockades and tree-sits; as people fed up with environmental and economic injustice occupy streets, banks and gov’t offices — the response by law enforcement and non-governmental security actors has been non-lethal in the recent past. Pepper spray, tasers, billy clubs and rubber bullets are brutal and violent, but they aren’t bullets and machetes. [caption id="attachment_19316" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Indigenous Blockade Along The Panamericanan Highway In Ecuador."][/caption] But people in other parts of the world using similar tactics are facing assassination and brutal violence. Furthermore, in the US and Canada, activists from lower income and traditionally marginalized communities face higher risk as well. Just a couple of months ago, our friend and ally Larry Gibson (anti-mining activist in West Virginia), who has survived more than one “drive-by” on his home, had his home burglarized and vandalized in retaliation for his outspoken position on mountaintop removal coal mining. Global North-based social and environmental movements have a lot of privilege. Direct action is a privilege which has been stepping into its own power of late. Our movements often use this “laboratory of resistance” to push for a greater good, but it needs constant self-reflection. How do we use our power and privilege towards our less privileged allies appropriately and respectfully? How do we do it in a way that continues to support folks facing deadly risks around the globe?

VIDEO: Mountaintop Removal is an American Tragedy

Mountaintop removal is an American tragedy. Plain and simple. The practice destroys hundreds of Appalachian mountains, contaminates drinking water and sacrifices America's communities for small seams of coal. That's exactly what actress and RAN ally Susan Sarandon has to say in our new video on mountaintop removal coal mining: [youtube XyzwCKoLhDo 550] This week, hundreds have convened in our nation's capitol for "Week in Washington" to call on Congress to end mountaintop removal coal mining. In RAN fashion, we are taking this message to the top financiers of the devastating mining practice with a video we think they can't ignore. A RAN report released today has found that Citi, PNC, Deutsche Bank and UBS are the leading financiers of mountaintop mining. They are the ATMs for coal operators and play a pivotal role in stopping the practice before it starts. [caption id="attachment_12541" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Click image to send this video to bank CEOs."]Mountaintop Removal: An American Tragedy[/caption] Watch this incredible video and send it to bank CEOs today. This firsthand footage will show banks exactly what they are funding when they choose to do business with MTR coal companies. As Ms. Sarandon says, "Mountaintop removal is an American tragedy... An unnecessary, outdated practice with no place in our clean energy future." It is time banks stop funding mountaintop removal mining and start funding our future.

Coal Tattoo: Massey's Blankenship to Plead the Fifth in Mining Disaster Probe

Don Blankenship is going to plead the 5th in the Upper Big Branch probe. Seems that Big Don is invoking his right to avoid self-incrimination. I'm pretty shocked and awed by this bit of information. I guess all those times I called Blankenship a "homicidal maniac," his lawyers didn't disagree. Per Ken Ward at Coal Tattoo:
We’ve just confirmed that retiring Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship no longer plans to appear next week to be questioned by state and federal investigators who are looking into the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. C.A. Phillips, acting director of the state Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training, said his agency was informed just a little while ago that Blankenship would invoke his 5th Amendment rights and not answer questions from the investigation team. UPDATED: Here’s a copy of a letter from Blankenship’s attorney to the state Office of Miners Health Safety and Training.

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