Pages tagged "mtr'"

Time for France’s Biggest Bank to Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal Coal

This post is by Ben Collins of RAN and Yann Louvel of BankTrack.

The campaign to stop bank financing of mountaintop removal coal mining is gaining momentum.

For years, RAN and other organizations in the global BankTrack network have urged U.S. and European banks to stop financing the devastation caused by mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. BankTrack members have worked closely with advocates from Appalachia — the region hardest hit by MTR — including Paul Corbit Brown and Elise Keaton from Keeper of the Mountains, and Bob Kincaid from Coal River Mountain Watch. Together, they’ve travelled around the U.S. and Europe to speak directly to CEOs and boards of banks at their annual shareholder meetings and urge them to stop bankrolling mountaintop removal coal mining.

This week, we have an opportunity to push France’s biggest bank, Crédit Agricole, to stop profiting from MTR once and for all. At today’s annual shareholder meeting, Paul Corbit Brown and staff from Friends of the Earth France urged the bank’s CEO, Jean-Paul Chifflet, to follow the lead of other banks and stop funding the biggest and most destructive MTR companies.

Take action: Now’s the time to back them up — please add your voice now! GFC_MTR_crop 

Public pressure to stop funding MTR started showing results a few years ago. U.S. banks were the first to react in 2008, adopting a mix of enhanced due diligence procedures and financing thresholds for companies that engage in mountaintop removal. But real change started to happen last year, when Wells Fargo in the U.S., and Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas in France, adopted new policies on MTR. These covered both direct project financing of MTR projects — which is pretty rare — and, more importantly, general corporate financing of coal mining companies active in MTR.

The implications of these new policies are potentially huge: the biggest and most harmful producers of MTR coal, such as Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, raise their funding from general corporate loans from banks or from bonds or shares issued to investors. And these are precisely the transactions that should be excluded by these new policies, which bar financing for companies that are “significant” producers of MTR coal.

But we’ve learned that different banks define "significant" in wildly different ways. BNP Paribas blacklists the main companies active in MTR production, including Alpha and Arch. But Crédit Agricole — while its policy looks similar to BNP’s on paper — excludes only those coal mining companies that produce more than 20% of their coal from MTR. In practice, they aren’t prohibited from doing business with any MTR companies at all!

Take action: Will you tell Crédit Agricole Jean-Paul Chifflet to close the bank’s huge MTR loophole?

Crédit Agricole has financed several loan and bond deals for Alpha and Arch — the worst of the worst MTR companies — while BNP Paribas hasn’t done any deals with these two companies since last year. Ironically for Crédit Agricole, financing MTR has not only been bad for the environment and human rights — it’s also been a bad investment. The bank suffered significant financial losses from loans it made to recently-bankrupt MTR miner Trinity Coal.

In contrast to Crédit Agricole, other U.S. and European banks have taken concrete steps away from MTR financing this spring. Last month, JPMorgan Chase published an update of its environmental and social policy framework, stating that they expected to continue defunding companies engaged in mountaintop mining. And in the U.K., Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) published a mining policy update prohibiting deals with the main MTR producers. Unlike Crédit Agricole’s new policy, these policy changes at JPMorgan Chase and RBS have teeth: both banks will stop financing top MTR producers, including Alpha and Arch.

Today, our allies went straight to Crédit Agricole’s annual shareholder meeting to tell the bank’s CEO and board close its massive MTR loophole, and stop funding Alpha and Arch.

Take action: We have Crédit Agricole's attention — will you add your voice?

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, BankTrack
Ben Collins, Research and Policy Campaigner, Rainforest Action Network

RAN Translates Banker-Speak

Deutsche Bank BuildingEarlier this year, thousands of RAN supporters wrote to Deutsche Bank boss Josef Achermenn to urge that his bank cease financing mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. Deutsche Bank have given us their first response, however... it’s a little dry. So I’m going to have a go at translating the ‘bankers-speak’ into plain English. Deutsche Bank’s words are in italics, my ‘translations’ are in bold. Deutsche Bank regards the responsible treatment of the environment as an integral part of its corporate identity. Within the framework of our certified sustainability management system we take environmental, social and governance issues very seriously, and we therefore take your concerns equally seriously. We have carefully studied your letter and consulted internally with the relevant business units. Deutsche Bank thinks it is important to be environmentally-friendly, and so we have read and discussed your letter. Please note that we only do business with companies that fully comply with national and local laws and standards. In 2010, we welcomed the US Environmental Protection Agency's decision to announce a set of actions to further clarify and strengthen environmental permitting requirements. We believe that these new requirements will help to reduce the environmental impacts of mining activities in the US. We only do business with companies that obey the law and we think that the EPA will make mining more eco-friendly. Being aware of the possible implications of our business activities, we have integrated environmental, social, and governance aspects in Deutsche Bank's risk management principles and guidelines. We use a systematic due diligence process, starting at the relevant business unit and involving internal control functions such as Compliance, Legal, Credit Risk Management, and Group Sustainability, to assess new clients as well as the engagement in potential business deals. If a case is especially complex and entails substantial risks, the case is escalated to senior management. Deutsche Bank has a process to examine the environmental, social and legal impacts of new clients and business deals. And, if we spot these risks, then it is up to senior management to judge whether / how we do business. Deutsche Bank only participates in financing, when the transaction complies with all the Bank’s relevant internal standards and when it fulfils legal and regulatory requirements. We have also integrated a “Green Filter” into our Group Reputational Risk Management Program policy, in order to evaluate whether a transaction is in line with the Bank’s objective to contribute towards a low carbon society. This approach is particularly relevant in carbon-intensive industries. Deutsche Bank has a goal to help society reduce carbon emissions and so we look at new clients and deals to see whether this helps us get to that goal. Business relationships with companies involved in potentially controversial environmental or social practices, are carefully considered and reviewed in depth and a company's environmental, social and governance risks will be assessed against external standards and internal requirements. If gaps are identified, Deutsche Bank will aim to work with the company to improve such practices or policies, or may indeed define conditions which the company must meet before the Bank will enter into a client relationship. When we spot a company who is not being as environmentally friendly as the law or as Deutsche Bank would like to see, we will try to work with them to improve. We might set a standard for the company to meet before we will do business with them. We are constantly working towards further enhancing our due diligence process and expertise, and we therefore appreciate your input. We would like our process to go further, thank you for your comments. --- Whichever version you read, the bank avoids any mention of mountaintop removal (MTR). But if Deutsche Bank is true to its word, then they should not do business with any MTR company, as they all systematically break the law (see today’s article by Ken Ward in the West Virginia Gazette that demonstrates legal compliance is getting worse, not better, in Kentucky). What do you think of Deutsche Bank's response?

Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain

[caption id="attachment_9608" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Kayford Mountain"][/caption] After a successful mobilization a few weeks ago in Washington D.C., the mountain justice movement is meeting again this weekend for Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia. Kayford is the home of anti-MTR activist Larry Gibson. Expect lots of good stuff to be happening at Kayford this weekend. Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain! This October 22nd-24th, the 5th annual Mountain Justice Fall Summit will be held on Kayford Mountain in the Southern West Virginia coalfields. Coming on the heels of Appalachia Rising, we are building momentum and standing together in the coalfields for the abolition of surface mining. Stand up for the mountains and future of Appalachia. Be a part of a mass movement that says stop mountaintop removal and hire West Virginians to reclaim whats already been destroyed. Below is a link to the Schedule for this weekend’s event, as well as a link to the Orientation page for the weekend. * Mountain Justice Fall Summit Schedule * Mountain Justice Fall Summit Orientation Packet * Fall Summit QuarterSheet Over 500 mountains have been destroyed and over 1,000 miles of streams have been buried in valley fills. Mountaintop Removal (MTR) continues to cause irreversible damage to the environment and aquatic systems that thousands of people rely on for food, water, and homes. In 1986, coal companies began stripping Kayford Mountain. Since then, “the slow motion destruction of Kayford Mountain has been continuous – 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” according to Larry Gibson, whose family has been living on Kayford since the 1700′s. Mountaintop removal affects thousands of Appalachians on a daily basis. “We’re here on a mission, our mission is simple, we want our mountains,” said local resident Adam Hall during Appalachia Rising, “…Because every day…we grow. Our voices are heard. We get louder, and as we grow…the coal companies’ resources, they shrink, day in and day out. We will have our day. We will win this fight. No more MTR. No more sludge dams. No more!” This devastating practice can not go on. Come join us for the Mountain Justice Fall Summit on Kayford Mountain, October 22-24, for a weekend of workshops and a day of action on an MTR site. For more info, contact or 304-854-1937, or click here to register now!

Digging for Answers on Coal?

Here's a list of great resources for keeping up-to-speed with the movement to keep coal in the ground. Coal Swarm Find out about coal in your state, existing and proposed US coal plants, coal mines, companies and coal-related activism. This is a wiki - anyone can contribute to it by adding or fixing information. Coal Tattoo "This Charleston Gazette blog attempts to build on the newspaper’s longtime coverage of all things coal — with a focus on mountaintop removal, coal-mine safety and climate change. Staff writer Ken Ward, Jr., a native of Piedmont in Mineral County, W.Va., has covered the Appalachian coal industry for nearly 20 years." Action and resource center, produced by Appalachian Voices,  focused on ending mountaintop removal mining. Includes "America's most endangered mountains" video series, blogger's challenge and a list of EPA permits under review. Jeff Biggers in the Huffington Post Regular column highlighting resistance to the coal industry. Jeff often writes from a historical and social justice perspective.

The EPA Releases New Guidance on Mountaintop Removal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today a major new guidance document that provides the coal industry and coal-state regulators with “clarity” regarding the permitting of mountaintop removal coal mining. This comes just days after the EPA blocked the Clean Water Act permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, the largest mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. You can read their full guidance notice here And their news announcement here After months of steps, the EPA has finally taken a leap to protect America’s mountains and drinking water from mountaintop removal coal mining. This is a clear response to resounding public opposition to the devastating mining practice. The EPA is finally flexing its full authority under the clean water act to curtail valley fills and protect the health of our waterways from irreversible damage. Coal operators and state mining regulators will have to contend with this rigorous mandate. The EPA has confirmed what science tells us, that mountaintop removal is harming water resources and public health in real and measurable ways, which is why these new guidelines should apply to existing mining permits not just new ones. Today's announcement has met with positive response from coalfield community members. “Appalachia thanks Lisa Jackson and the EPA for taking the impacts on human health and environmental justice into consideration when issuing permits,” said Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch in West Virginia. “Our 13,000 members are pleased that their pleas and prayers are being heard - the grandmothers and grandchildren I work with are seeing a new spark of hope today,” said Ann League of Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment in Tennessee. “While there is much good news for us today, we also wonder — will this help save the community of Twilight in Boone County, WV and so many other communities that are in the mountaintop removal cross hairs? The safety of these communities depends on how these guidelines and laws are enforced,” said Vivian Stockman, with the Huntington, West Virginia based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. Moving forward, we urge the EPA to take holistic measures to end this devastating practice once and for all. We cannot end mountaintop removal coal mining pollution without ending mountaintop removal all together. To be clear, this is a strong step in mitigating the impacts of mountaintop removal, but the only way to protect America's mountains, water and communities is to abolish the practice. The EPA has and must use its authority under the clean water act to stop this devastating practice.

Reverend Billy brings the mountaintops back to Chase bank

We've been hearing updates from across the country of activists and groups who are protesting Chase bank's role in financing mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. This may be the most creative protest yet...

On March 21st Rev.Billy and his gospel choir built a mountain in the lobby of a Chase branch on 2nd Avenue & 10th Street in Manhattan, NY made from the "murdered mud" of Coal River Mountain in West Virginia. Perched on top they left a letter for the CEO of Chase Jamie Dimon. Rev. Billy and choir make a mountain, singing "Bring back the mountain children, Chase is gonna bring back the mountain!" You can read the Rev's reflection on the protest here.

Breaking: Anti-MTR Activists Risk Arrest at EPA HQ with Elaborate Protest

Follow @RANactions on Twitter for updates Hi Res Pictures Activists Risk Arrest with Elaborate Protest at EPA HQ; Demand Immediate Action to Stop Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Group Erects Purple Mountain Majesty At EPA; Say “If Administrator Lisa Jackson Won’t Visit the Appalachian Mountains, They Will Bring The Mountains to Her” WASHINGTON— In an attempt to further pressure EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to enforce the Clean Water Act and halt mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR), activists early this morning erected two 20-foot-tall, purple tripod structures in front of the agency’s headquarters. A pair of activists perched at the top of the tripods have strung a 25-foot sign in front of the EPA’s door that reads, “EPA: pledge to end mountaintop removal in 2010.” Six people are locked to the tripods and say they won’t leave unless Administrator Jackson commits to a flyover visit of the Appalachian Mountains and MTR sites, which she has never done before. This is the latest in a series of actions and activities aimed at pressuring the EPA to take more decisive action on mountaintop removal coal mining. Today’s tactic is modeled on the multi-day tree-sits that have been happening in West Virginia to protect mountains from coal companies’ imminent blasting. Called the worst of the worst strip mining, the practice blows the tops off of whole mountains to scoop out the small seams of coal that lie beneath. “We’re losing our way of life and our culture,” said Chuck Nelson, who worked as a coal miner in West Virginia for three decades and came to DC to support today’s protest. “Mountaintop removal should be banned today. The practice means total devastation for communities, the hardwood forests, the ecosystems, and the headwaters. Why should our communities sacrifice everything we have?” Despite the Obama administration’s big announcement last year that it was going to take “unprecedented steps” to reduce the environmental damage from mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, the EPA has been slow moving. Two weeks ago, the EPA delayed action on a set of broad-ranging and specific measures to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal, after details of the plan were leaked to coal-state mining regulators. The EPA has for months been close to finalizing these permit guidelines, which many hope will mandate tougher protections to limit damage to water quality and be a step in the right direction toward abolishing the practice. The delay in EPA’s announcement of more detailed permit guidelines came just as the agency also asked U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers for more time to decide if it will veto the largest mountaintop removal mining permit in West Virginia history, the nearly 2,300-acre Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County.

“The science has become clear that mountaintop removal is harming water resources in real and measurable ways,” said Kate Rooth of the Rainforest Action Network, which organized the protest. “The EPA definitely can and must do much more on mountaintop mining and that includes exercising its full regulatory authority to block every single mining permit application that seeks to remove America’s oldest mountaintops and dump the waste into waterways.” Based on EPA Administrator Jackson’s statements on March 8th at the National Press Club, it appears that the EPA is seeking ways to “minimize” the ecological damage of mountaintop mining rather than halt the most extreme strip mining practice. A paper released in January by a dozen leading scientists in the journal Science, however, concluded that mountaintop coal mining is so destructive that the government should stop giving out new permits all together. “The science is so overwhelming that the only conclusion that one can reach is that mountaintop mining needs to be stopped,” said Margaret Palmer, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences and the study’s lead author. “Ultimately, what is clear is that mountaintop removal cannot be regulated. It must be abolished. Otherwise, we will continue to jeopardize our historic mountains, precious drinking water and especially the lives of the people who call Appalachia home. All of this for a tiny percent of dirty coal, the tradeoff doesn’t add up,” said Kate Finneran, one of the two main climbers in today’s protest. Called the worst of the worst coal mining, mountaintop removal coal mining results in the clear-cutting of thousands of acres of some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests, the burying of crucial headwaters streams and the contamination of groundwater with toxic levels of heavy lead and mercury. According to the EPA, this destructive practice has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of forest by 2020. ###

Mining Banned in Flathead River Valley, BC

I'm heartened to hear that British Columbia has made a firm commitment to protect the headwaters of Glacier National Park by banning mining and drilling in the Flathead River Valley. "There's still work to be done here, but I'm not going to lie to you, I'm a pretty happy guy right now," said Will Hammerquist of the National Parks Conservation Association. "You had a land-use plan in place that put mining above all other values. This announcement signals a shift away from that."

DC Mountaintop Removal Protest Heats Up

4059094566_430c07e29339543924-2bb680dd1db5cb3775ebdf7104df69cc.4aeb28c9-scaled-1 Across Country Coalition of Environmental Groups Call for EPA to Stop Recent Blasting on Coal River Mountain, WV; Site of Proposed Wind Farm More than Fifty Stage Sit-In and Rally at EPA Headquarters in DC What you can do right now: Call EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and ask her to stop the blasting at Coal River Mountain Hundreds participated today with Mountain Justice, Rainforest Action Network and other environmental groups in nationwide protests demanding an end to mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. As part of the national day of, 14 people staged a sit-in at the EPA headquarters in Washington, DC. They were joined by approximately 50 coalfield residents and allies who held a rally in front of the building. Those in attendance represent a coalition of environmental groups and Appalachian community members who are asking the EPA to take immediate action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. In particular, the group is asking the EPA to intervene in the destruction of Coal River Mountain, WV, the site of a potential 328-megawatt wind farm, which Massey Energy began blasting this week. While President Obama spent the week trumpeting his administration’s support for clean energy, Massey Energy began dynamiting Coal River Mountain in West Virginia, a national flashpoint in the battle to replace destructive mountaintop removal coal mining practices with clean energy and green jobs. “The fate of Coal River Mountain and our clean energy future is in the EPA’s hands,” said Kate Rooth of the Rainforest Action Network who took part in the sit-in. “By intervening to stop the blasting of Coal River Mountain and to protect our nation’s clean energy resources, the Obama Administration has a chance to show that it will stand up for the nation’s new energy priorities and green jobs even against persistent dirty coal interests; this is how we protect the economy and the planet.” Coal River Mountain gained national notoriety after a study showed that its peaks and ridges have enough wind potential to provide 70,000 households with electricity, support 700 long-term green jobs and give back $1.7 million in annual county taxes. Over the objections of the local community, the site has been granted permits for mountaintop removal. Massey Energy began dynamiting peaks this week, which will destroy any hope for the proposed wind farm unless the EPA intervenes. "Every day, more than 3 million pounds of explosives are detonated in our state to remove our mountains and expose the thin seams of coal beneath,” said Bo Webb, a resident of Coal River Valley WV and a participant in today’s rally. “President Obama, I beg you to re-light our flame of hope and honor and immediately stop the coal companies from blasting so near our homes and endangering our lives. As you have said, we must find another way than blowing off the tops of our mountains. We must end mountaintop removal.” If the blasting at Coal River Mountain is allowed to continue, mountaintop removal coal mining will destroy one of the last intact mountains in Appalachia. In the process, it will endanger hundreds of people living in the valley below, as the project requires blasting dynamite less than 100 yards from the largest coal sludge impoundment in the country. Massey Energy’s own assessment indicates that if the impoundment, an earthen dam, is breached more than eight billion gallons of coal slurry will spill out endangering hundreds of people who would have less than five minutes to evacuate.

Philly Activists Protest Blasting On Coal River Mountain

Early Thursday morning, local climate activists dropped a banner reading “Save Coal River Mtn.” from the 18th Street overpass above the Vine Street Expressway. The banner contrasted images of a wind farm and a bulldozer; the bottom read, “Coal Is Over.” Philly Banner Drop - Coal River Massey Energy Company, one of the largest coal producers in the country, began blasting at Coal River Mountain last Friday, in Coal River, West Virginia. Last year the state issued permits to conduct mountain top removal on the site, despite protest by local residents. Witnesses saw blasts and smoke on Friday near the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment. Slurry is the by-product of coal washing and processing and contains high levels of toxic heavy metals. The Brushy Fork impoundment, the largest slurry dam in Appalachia, has the capacity to hold 8.2 billion gallons. Critics of mountaintop removal argue that an estimated 1,000 lives are at risk if the dam at Brushy Fork were to fail. Last December, a containment pond in Kingston, Tennessee burst, flooding the area with over one billion gallons of coal ash sludge, producing the largest environmental disaster in United States history. “As world leaders are looking for solutions to climate change and economic crisis, we are presented with an incredible opportunity to develop green, sustainable technologies,” said one activist, who asked to be identified only as Hannah. “Coal is a fuel of the past. We need to be looking to long term, sustainable solutions such as wind and solar for our energy needs.” For the last two years, local residents have campaigned for a commercial-scale wind farm on Coal River Mountain. The Coal River Wind campaign has asked West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin to rescind the mining permits for Coal River Mountain. So far, Governor Manchin has denied the group’s request. A wind resources assessment and economic study commissioned by Coal River Mountain Watch in 2008 revealed that Coal River Mountain has enough wind potential to provide electricity for over 85,000 homes and would create more jobs over the expected life of the turbines than the proposed mountaintop removal mine. Tomorrow is a national day of action to end mountaintop removal, with 25 actions planned around the country. In Philadelphia, environmentalists will rally outside the EPA offices on 17th St & JFK Blvd. The protest runs from 11am-1pm and demands that the EPA cease approving permits for mountaintop removal sites.

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