As the largest financier of the U.S. coal industry, Bank of America should be called the “Bank of Coal.” So we decided to rename it. Today, five RAN activists scaled Bank of America Stadium and dropped a 70′ x 25′ banner reading “Bank of America Coal.” What better place to send our message than BofA Stadium in Charlotte, NC, which stands as a giant symbol of everything wrong with the bank’s practices? And, as the site of the upcoming DNC, is one of the most publicized buildings in the country.
BofA pays big bucks for the naming rights to the stadium because of its marketing potential, even while the bank’s investments in the coal industry are polluting Charlotte communities and causing severe health problems. In 2012, for instance, one in every four children living in Charlotte will develop asthma or other respiratory problems, while 3,000 North Carolinians will die prematurely, all due to air pollution from coal-fired power plants. There are four coal plants in the Charlotte area, including Duke’s Riverbend plant, which is financed by Bank of America and sits just 12 miles from Uptown Charlotte, not too far from Bank of America Stadium.
The stadium is intended to be an enormous symbol of BofA’s financial strength and role in the Charlotte community. Instead, it is a massive symbol of BofA’s profits-over-people-and-planet mentality. Our action today kicks off a week of events in the lead up to BofA’s annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte on May 9, which is slated to have more than 1,000 protestors in attendance. We need you to stand with these activists. Sign the petition calling on BofA to stop bankrolling the coal industry.
Charlotte is hardly alone in being polluted by BofA-financed coal plants. In the past two years alone, Bank of America has pumped some $6.74 billion into the U.S. coal industry – more than any other bank, as detailed in our campaign briefing Bank of America: Risking Public Health and the Climate. Nationally, coal pollution is responsible for 13,000 premature deaths, more than $100 billion in annual health costs, and more than 200,000 asthma attacks every year. Pollution from coal-fired power plants leads to smog, which can cause chest pain, coughing, and breathing difficulties and can make conditions like bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma worse or even fatal. Today, two out of every five U.S. families live in places with unsafe air.
Yesterday, we teamed up with the Sierra Club to release our third annual Coal Finance Report Card, which ranks the largest financiers of mountaintop removal coal mining and coal-fired power plants. Bank of America received a failing grade for its weak coal policy and considerable exposure to the industry. Bank of America funds every sector of the U.S. coal industry, including companies operating controversial mountaintop removal coal mining sites and those planning to build coal export terminals along the Pacific Northwest coastline.
In addition to posing a major public health risk, coal burning is responsible for one third of U.S. carbon emissions — the main contributor to climate change. Coal is an outdated, dirty source of fuel. What’s more, it’s a dying industry — now making up less than 40% of total energy generation in the country. In other words, coal is the ultimate subprime investment for the climate. We plan to take that message to BofA’s management and shareholders at its annual shareholder meeting on May 9. If you can join us, find the details here. If you can’t, you can still stand with the activists protesting Bank of America’s practices by signing the petition today.