BREAKING: “Risking Arrest for My Granddaughter”

By Rainforest Action Network

“My husband and I are BofA shareholders, but I am a grandmother first, foremost, and forever.” – Patricia Moore, Bank of America shareholder and grandmother

Today in Charlotte, NC., nine people are risking arrest at sit-ins coordinated at four different Bank of America branches. Among those risking arrest is Patricia Moore, 75, of Charlotte, a Bank of America family shareholder and grandmother concerned about the impact coal pollution is having on her granddaughter, Kate, who suffers from chronic asthma.

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Seated with her arm locked into a 55-gallon barrel, Moore was asked why she is participating in today’s action:

Most of the members of my family live within the ring of five coal plans that surround our city. When Bank of America funds coal, it sponsors the coal pollution that’s hurting my family. This bank invests billions into the coal industry every year, locking us into more pollution than we can afford. We stand together today as people who understand the many problems that stem from coal. We are committed to building a healthier world for future generations.

In the past two years, Bloomberg data indicates that Bank of America has invested $6.4 billion in the U.S. coal industry, surpassing any other American financial institution. Also according to Bloomberg Data, the bank is the top funder of companies that practice mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. The bank underwrites the entire spectrum of the coal industry, from mining, to transport, to the utilities that operate the dirtiest coal-fired power plants.

Moore has spent the last month protesting BofA’s financial relationship to the coal industry, starting with an ad (one in a series coordinated by RAN) featuring her and her granddaughter that ran in the Charlotte Business Journal.

According to a 2010 Clean Air Task Force study, 325 deaths, 502 heart attacks and 5,490 asthma attacks are attributed to the five coal plants within 50 miles of Charlotte. Nationally, coal is a leading cause of life-threatening air pollution like asthma-inducing smog.

Last week Pat wrote an email to RAN supporters calling on all of us to help her send a message to BofA. This is what she said:

Can you imagine watching your granddaughter struggle daily to breathe? It is hard to think of breathing as a luxury—but for my granddaughter that is her constant reality. Our family lives in Charlotte, which is one of the smoggiest cities in the country, largely because of its close proximity to dirty coal-fired plants. In the five generations my family has lived here in Charlotte, North Carolina, never has there been an issue more serious than the air we breathe. Bank of America, the #1 underwriter of the U.S. coal industry, should not be contributing to devastating people’s health.

Terms like “bad air days,” “extreme weather,” or “climate change” may feel vague or far away to some. But behind these words there are people like me and my granddaughter. People whose lives are imperiled by coal companies and the financial institutions that back them. They think we haven’t noticed.

But the world is starting to wake up. And we have an opportunity. This is our time to tell Bank of America to stop funding coal and start the transition to a clean energy future today. Because energy should not cost lives.