Bank of America and MTR – What Does it All Mean?

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Last week, Bank of America released a new coal policy on their website announcing that they would “phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal.” We were thrilled. We celebrated. We sent out a press release praising Bank of America for their decision to move away from financing mountaintop removal coal mining, and pressuring them to go a step further and pull out of coal financing altogether.

Bank of America’s announcement, and the responses of RAN and many of our allies picked up a fair amount of press coverage. We were pleased that the press coverage focused on Bank of America’s culpability in the practice of mountaintop removal. We were especially pleased to know that reporters were calling Bank of America representatives to ask hard questions about their vague policy, such as what is BoA’s time-line for phasing out mountaintop removal? And what companies in BoA’s portfolio will this policy affect?

This article appeared in the Charleston Gazzette:

Another good article, this one from GreenBiz:

And then there was the article that got picked up by the AP: This article was very critical of Bank of America’s policy and asked whether it is all for show.

We at RAN are asking ourselves that same question. While it is great that Bank of America has acknowledged their responsibility on the issues of mountaintop removal mining, we wonder which companies in their profile they consider to “predominately” use mountaintop removal as a method of mining coal. Do they mean companies who mine more than 50% of their coal with mountaintop removal? The AP reporter who wrote the above article assumed that 50% + 1 equals predominate, but unfortunately, we have not yet been able to clarify with Bank of America this very important question.

We are working on updating all of the research that we keep regarding Bank of America (and other banks) financial relationships within the coal industry, and we are taking a look at the top companies that are involved in mountaintop removal mining and crunching numbers to figure out how much of their coal is mined by mountaintop removal so that we can quickly and accurately respond as Bank of America’s policy becomes more clear. We will be sure to keep the blog updated as details emerge from Bank of America – so stay tuned!