Promoted by Devilstower. After all the bad news I've brought you on mountaintop removal, it's wonderful to see some success.
This summer, after months of conversations, some top executives from Bank of America agreed to accompany NRDC staff on a fact-finding trip to Appalachia. In July we flew them over moonscaped mine sites in West Virginia, took them to Kayford Mountain for a closer look at mountaintop mining, and introduced them to several local residents/activists who are fighting to save their beloved homeland from reckless coal mining companies.
Today, BofA released its revised coal policy, which will have the immediate effect of curtailing commercial lending to companies that mine coal by blowing off the top of mountains in Appalachia. The policy states, in part:
Bank of America is particularly concerned about surface mining conducted through mountain top removal in locations such as central Appalachia. We therefore will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal. While we acknowledge that surface mining is economically efficient and creates jobs, it can be conducted in a way that minimizes environmental impacts in certain geographies.
Why is this so important? Bank of America still stands as a pillar of our country's shaky financial system. In fact, the trying economic crisis has only served to strengthen this behemoth bank unlike other once proud and stable institutions. All the more reason to engage BofA in using its investment power and influence to affect positive environmental change.
That's also why Rainforest Action identified BofA as the right company for a public campaign, hoping to convince the bank that investing in companies that practice mountaintop removal mining is a bad thing.
NRDC decided to get involved in a different way: By talking to the bank's executives directly and explaining the great opportunity available to them as responsible corporate citizens to help end this travesty. That's when they agreed to the West Virginia trip and saw first and what their investments in mining companies had been supporting.
Is BofA’s policy perfect? No. Is the policy as strong as we'd like? Not really. Will this shut down mountaintop mining operations? Of course not.
But BofA's bold step forward sends an unequivocal signal to the mining industry that business as usual is no longer acceptable. And for the worst offenders of mountaintop mining, like Massey, the bank's actions will effectively shut down the funding flow for this activity from one of the nation's largest lenders.
Make no mistake, this is a big step from a big player. And it marks a turning point in the campaign to end the war on Appalachia being waged by the coal industry. NRDC is pleased to be working with both our grassroots allies and leading corporations like Bank of America to stop mountaintop mining.
This Diary was originally posted at NRDC Switchboard