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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

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:38 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Feh (6+ / 0-)

      Coal price is dropping like a rock. Loaning money to mining company is simply out of the question. The rest is grand standing.

      •  Good point (6+ / 0-)

        And there is much 'wiggle room' in the wording of BofA's statement, not much in declarative, universal statements.

        Per some industry info, it is a natural consequence more than 'leadership position'!  Okay, BofA, we get it, you mean like the first comment on a blog post... you're 'first' to say you're going to do what any and every reasonable financial institution is going to do anyway....

        Industry Report ref:

        A substantive barrier to investment in coal mining and coal-fired power plants
        is the concern that investments will become "stranded" due to carbon
        emissions penalties that may be imposed in the future. Uncertainty about
        future environmental policies is already pushing up required rates of return for
        new projects. However, continued research into clean coal technologies and
        carbon sequestration offers the potential for further improvements in the
        environmental performance of coal-fired power plants.

        Geez, I wish we could just export all coal we mine - we have so few hard-cash industries now and need it!

        The North American domestic coal market is expected to remain the second largest
        coal market in the world during the next three decades, although the influence and
        share of the United States and Canadian coal producers in export markets will
        continue to decline. Investment in the United States and Canadian coal industry is
        projected to account for 19% of the global total (around $70 billion)Investment in the eastern
        United States will remain significant, despite an anticipated decline in production, as
        virtually all mines currently in production in this area will close within the next 20 to
        25 years.

        •  Just Stop Burning It. (0+ / 0-)

          There will be  a use for coal for the next 100 years or more. It won't have a future as a combustible in the open air, though. That is a big difference.

          cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

          by Pete Rock on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:28:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Charcoal from Hemp (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            polar bear

            Charcoal from hemp can replace coal. It produces 20% to 40% more oxygen while growing than carbon dioxide when burnt.

            The holdup? Congress considers charcoal from hemp a dangerous drug--equates it with the non-drug cannabinoid marijuana--and classifies hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance drug.

            Congress is waging war against our own economic interests.

            The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. Thomas Jefferson

            by Androgyne on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:22:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  It's great to know that there is some morality (16+ / 0-)

    left in American business.  We hear all the time about corporations raping the environment, some accountability from one of these companies is a nice break.

    Hey there mr. Elation/ with all your perfect plans for peace/ until the power of love can exceed the love of power/ you know it can never never be -RX Bandits

    by dmet on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 02:46:14 PM PST

  •  I'd challenge this: (20+ / 0-)

    ... surface mining is economically efficient and creates jobs. ...

    I know there's a diary here from a while back that showed how it reduces the number of jobs.  How else is it more efficient?

    Conservatism is a function of age - Rousseau
    I've been 19 longer'n you've been alive - me

    by watercarrier4diogenes on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 02:52:52 PM PST

  •  Congratulations and thank you. I've spent (24+ / 0-)

    some very memorable moments hiking and camping in Dolly Sods State Park and other areas of the beautiful state of West Virginia.  

    Thank you for helping to protect land I cherish as sacred.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone

    by DCBlue on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 02:54:31 PM PST

  •  There is a book where mountaintop removal (18+ / 0-)

    is a large part of the landscape of the plot - "Absolute Rage", by Tanenbaum (actually it's written by Michael Gruber, but that's a whole 'nother story) that I really liked - have you read it? is what he wrote accurate about Big Coal just ruining the land and the communities? defective slurry pond/dams that may break and flood, toxic waste mine tailings dumped in valleys and streams where they will damage other people's lives and land?

    It's a good book - and got me all militant about finding ways to affect the situation ... LTEs, and will-be emails to Obama's EPA head.

    Attacking via cash flow debt-funding was a brilliant idea.

  •  Good news. I hope BofA honors the (12+ / 0-)

    commitment it's making. Let's hope that a year from now we can look back and see that they've walked their talk.

    Blogging for the future at Climaticide Chronicles

    "My True Religion Is Kindness" -- The Dalai Lama/---/Do you know why 350ppm is important?

    by JohnnyRook on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:42:52 PM PST

  •  Reminds me of some John Prine.... (16+ / 0-)

    When I was a child my family would travel
    Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
    And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
    So many times that my memories are worn.

    [chorus]
    And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
    Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
    Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
    Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
    [end chorus]

    Well sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
    To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
    Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
    But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

    [chorus]

    Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
    And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
    Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
    Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

    [chorus]

    When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
    Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
    I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waiting
    Just five miles away from wherever I am.

    [chorus]

    -Paradise, John Prine

    (-8.50, -7.54) Once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right....

    by Tin hat mafia on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:16:51 PM PST

  •  This is news spanning (10+ / 0-)

    generations. For years, the Appalachians have been exploited for votes by politicians of both parties then had their resources treated like giant slot machines. This is an emotional victory for the residents of this region.

    Congratulations to NRDC and BofA (yes, that's my bank) for righting this long-standing wrong.

    •  The first time Jay Rockefeller ran he opposed (4+ / 0-)

      strip mining; he lost. He fell in line and got elected the second time around.

    •  now I feel a little guilty for including them in (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, polar bear, Otteray Scribe

      my bankruptcy.....

      Congratulations to NRDC and BofA (yes, that's my bank) for righting this long-standing wrong.

      Wait a minute, the bastards bumped my APR from 14% to 34% when I called and told them I was in trouble.  Never mind, I'm glad I included those greedy bastards.

      A PBS mind in a Fox News World | -1.75/-4.00

      by Crookshanks on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:14:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  YMMV (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage

        My experience with BofA has been quite the opposite. They've worked with me cooperatively and in one business venture managed to save me from myself and my exuberance by catching a flaw in my business plan. I'm sorry your experience wasn't as positive.

        •  I called them when I got into trouble paying my (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          polar bear, Otteray Scribe

          bills after losing my job and having a major health problem with no insurance.

          I called them before I had even missed a payment.  Told them what my situation was and asked if they would be willing to lower my APR in exchange for closing the account and letting me pay off the existing balance.  They told me that they couldn't help me unless my account was delinquent and even then they probably wouldn't lower the APR.

          Two weeks later (keep in mind the account still wasn't late) I got a letter saying that they slashed my credit limit and bumped my APR up to 35%.  That's when I stopped paying them.  The little bit of money that I did have went to creditors who were willing to work with me -- the remainder eventually went to my bankruptcy attorney.

          Even when I filed bankruptcy that wasn't the end of them.  The jackasses from their collections department kept trying to collect on the account for three weeks after the bankruptcy was filed.  It took several phone calls from my attorney and a not-so-subtle threat from the bankruptcy trustee to get them to stop calling me.

          They can burn in hell as far as I'm concerned.  Glad they are doing the right thing here but they'll never see another dime of my money.  My only regret is that I only owed them $6,000 when I filed bankruptcy.

          A PBS mind in a Fox News World | -1.75/-4.00

          by Crookshanks on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:34:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  was this before the recent bankruptcy law? i (0+ / 0-)

            read that it is much harder for bankruptcy to even intervene in their demand for payment.

            Glad you had a good experience, MKSinSA, but i'm not happy with my credit card relationship with them, either.  They are just too big, for one thing.  I hope Obama installs a lot of regulation, here, and reinvigorates the anti-monopoly laws.  They are taking our tax money so that they can drive more of us into bankruptcy.  I almost cannot think about it--drives me crazy.

            •  under the old and the new bankruptcy laws (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              polar bear

              they have to cease all collection efforts (even lawsuits) the minute that the bankruptcy case is filed.  It's called the automatic stay and remains a part of the bankruptcy code even after the "reform".

              Their attempts to collect on my debt was a clear violation of the bankruptcy code.  Not one of my other creditors attempted to do this.  Even the scumbag debt collection agencies that employ ex-cons stopped calling me once I filed.  Yet BoA kept it up for three more weeks.

              It took the threat of sanctions from the bankruptcy court to get them to back down.  Once the BoA legal department got involved they blamed it on an 'overzealous' person in the collections department.  Real convenient, huh?

              A PBS mind in a Fox News World | -1.75/-4.00

              by Crookshanks on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:28:53 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes, very convenient, like when they (0+ / 0-)

                didn't "process" my refusal (of a rate hike) letter for 2.5 months, tried to bill be at the new rate.  Wonder if they are allowed to keep that rate if you don't notice and pay it.  I called them, and i still had to pay the new amount, which they reimbursed in the next one.  i won't even go into it all here, but i hear you.

                So is it harder to declare bankruptcy now?  

                •  not really.... most of the doom and gloom you (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Wife of Bath, polar bear

                  hear about the new bankruptcy bill is misinformed.  Having gone through it, let me explain how bankruptcy works -- my apologies in advance if I ramble on.

                  There are two different types of bankruptcy that the typical consumer would file.  Chapter 7 (Liquidation) and Chapter 13 (Repayment).

                  In a Chapter 7 case all of your assets become the property of the "bankruptcy estate".  This estate is then liquidated and the proceeds used to pay your creditors.  After the estate is liquidated you receive your discharge and don't have to pay the remaining debts (other than federally backed student loans, taxes, child support and a few other exempt debts).

                  It sounds a lot scarier than it actually is.  In reality you have a list of assets that you can exempt from this estate -- typically a car up to a certain value ($2,500 in my state), your wedding ring, clothes, a certain amount of equity in your home that varies by state ($10,000 in my state -- upwards of $2,500,000 in Florida -- why do you think OJ moved there?), etc, etc.  The vast majority of Chapter 7 cases are "no asset" cases, meaning that all of the assets owned by the debtor are exempt.  In these cases the creditors get nothing.  My filing was a no-asset Chapter 7.

                  In a Chapter 13 the court takes a look at your income vs. your allowed living expenses.  If you have cash left over after this calculation (i.e: disposable income) it's taken by the court for 5 years and used to repay your creditors.  At the end of the 5 years they get what they get -- any remaining debt is discharged.

                  The advantage of a Chapter 13 is you don't lose any non-exempt assets that you may have.  You can also keep your house if you are behind on the payments -- the amount that you are behind on goes into the repayment plan and you keep making the normal payments outside of the bankruptcy.

                  What the new laws did was impose a formalized "litmus test" on people seeking to file Chapter 7.  Now they look at your income and expenses and if you have a certain amount of disposable income left over they can force you into a Chapter 13 instead of a Chapter 7.  All this did was formalize a process that already existed -- under the old laws the bankruptcy trustee could challenge your Chapter 7 filing as "abusive" if it was obvious that you had the money to repay your creditors.

                  There are also several exemptions to this litmus test.  If you make less than the median income for your state you automatically qualify for a Chapter 7.  If you have no disposable income remaining after paying your day to day bills (utilities, rent, food, medical, car/homeowners insurance, etc, etc) then you automatically qualify for a Chapter 7.

                  There are some other things that came along with the new bankruptcy law -- like a requirement that you seek credit counseling before filing and the requirement that you complete a financial course before receiving your discharge.  The credit counseling is a joke -- you can do it online and they almost always tell you that bankruptcy is a good option for you -- the financial course consists of telling you how to balance your checkbook.

                  Anyway, the main result of the new bankruptcy law was to make it more expensive to file bankruptcy.  There are new filing/regulatory requirements that your attorney has to meet -- so he charges a higher fee now than he used too.  You also have to cough up the money for the financial class and credit counseling.

                  When I filed Ch-7 it cost me about $1,100.  $800 of that was legal fees -- the rest was the court filing fee (around $240) and some administrative expenses.  If I was to file today under the new laws with the same attorney it would wind up costing me about $1,600.

                  So it now costs a bit more to file than it used to.  That sucks, but it's not the doom and gloom that people are making it out to be.  You can still file bankruptcy in this country.

                  A PBS mind in a Fox News World | -1.75/-4.00

                  by Crookshanks on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:34:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  34%? usury, plain & simple. rate caps, anyone? nt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wife of Bath
  •  This is huge (5+ / 0-)

    how do we get more attention to this?

  •  Good news and Thanks for it. I owe them (7+ / 0-)

    money each month. It won't hurt so much now when I pay it.

    Anyone know exactly what the legal status of today's new last minute permissive Mountain top regulation and the steps necessary to invalidate it?  I'm talking about the one that lets them dump the refuse in streams that they were previously forbidden from dumping in.  Will Congress be able to overturn it if they vote on it within 60 days?  Can a lawsuit and then a settlement with a new administration invalidate it?  What rule making steps would be needed if it goes that route?

    I've heard that anything that goes into effect less than 60 days before the end of Congress's term can be overturned by an apparently unfillibusterable vote of the next congress, but the information has been a bit complex and no one has talked specifically about this bill.

  •  What kind of blasting powder did you use (7+ / 0-)

    to get BofA execs out of offices?!!? I am so thoroughly impressed!  Way.To.Go!

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

    by FarWestGirl on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 08:59:39 PM PST

  •  yeah, saw this & have to admit BofA (8+ / 0-)

    did a very good thing.  But i'm not singing any hosannas.  it's nice when good PR means stopping nasty deeds, though, and, yes, BofA, welcome to the human race--let's hope this attitude permeates your whole corporation.

  •  rperks, please add a tip jar! (6+ / 0-)

    That is, a post with a header saying something like, "Tips for preserving the Appalachians here."

  •  Outstanding! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moosely2006, linkage, MKSinSA

    Now I may not mind their daily robocalls quite as much! Hell, I may even actually GIVE them the credit card business they seem to want so badly.

    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

    by Pariah Dog on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 03:40:00 AM PST

  •  Kathy Mattea's "Coal" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, polar bear

    is a hauntingly beautiful CD focused on coal mining and the lives of miners, their families, and their communities.

    Here's a video of the song "Coal Tattoo."

    http://www.mattea.com/

    Security is an illusion. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.

    by Poycer on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 04:06:00 AM PST

  •  This article reflects the experiences I've had (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, MKSinSA, polar bear

    with BOA. Their services are the best compared to other banks I've dealt with.

    Nice to have something good about a bank here. Lord knows we can use it.

    Change the media ownership laws - break up the corporate media monopoly!

    by moosely2006 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:40:08 AM PST

  •  NRDC is the sh*t!, Thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage
    •  NRDC did piss off some other greens though... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TN yellow dog, linkage, polar bear

      I actually work at NRDC at the moment, and I've gotten a certain amount of flack from friends who work with RAN and Greenpeace for their sense that NRDC undercut their publicity campaign efforts by being too close to BofA and permitting the bank to do some greenwashing.  While it is true that we greens can disagree pretty vehemently about strategy, it's great to see some pay off.  

      I don't think we should give short shrift to the work of other groups too in getting this done.  In response to another poster's question, the blasting powder may have been those publicity campaigns.

      hats off and congrats to another great accomplishment!  That's unbelievable.  

      Like communism and fascism before it, fundamentlism will not rest until it is thoroughly discredited or the entire world is under its yoke.

      by Guinho on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 01:01:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Although I am not opposed to organizations like (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, polar bear

        Greenpeace, especially their mission goals, I don't place much stake in their execution. I just don't see many positive results from their actions other than minimal "public awareness" -- I say minimal because they rarely are a big news item.

        Instead, it is the quiet action taken by people like the one explained in this diary, that really gets things done. I have given money to NRDC because of their ability to achieve things. Also, I am going to wait a little to see if BOA holds to this ideal, and then dump my credit card with Chase and get one of theirs. Nothing speaks to these people like the wallet.

        We can protest all we want, but if drive to the march point in an SUV and carry our signs wearing NIKE shoes, then we are ineffective.

        Thanks for your work at NRDC

  •  Great news about a bank I've invested over (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patricia Taylor, polar bear

    100k in after removing it from a Vanguard MMF.  When I started reading, I was afraid I was going to have to close early and take some penalties.  This is a real relief, for a change!

    Really brilliant to go after the money that backs this heinous practice.  I believe Rachel Maddow mentioned that over 400 mountaintops have already been removed.  WTF is it with mankind?  Don't people realize this is the only planet we've got???

    Peace.

  •  So where do we write to say thanks? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patricia Taylor, swvadem

    I have several B of A accounts and am happy to write to thank them and encourage them.

    If that is helpful, post the contact information so it gets to the right person/office.

  •  Now that's a lovely photo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing

    Ansel Adams, right?

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:45:49 AM PST

  •  Interesting, how we can turn the crisis in favor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    with lenders looking for any excuse NOT to lend what better way then to lean on lenders that support lending to anti-environmental and anti-social endeavors.

    Saxby Chambliss wants to privatize YOUR social security, in today's stock market.

    by gaspare on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:46:11 AM PST

  •  Well, I'll be.....! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patricia Taylor, polar bear

    (mouth open, jaw on floor)

    I'm shocked - happily.... BofA has done better than my fears after taking over the real BofA (SF) and seems to have absorbed some of the culture it bought several years ago. Good for them.

  •  Brilliant! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevej, raincrow, polar bear

    I'm not always a nit-picking nattering nabob of negativism.

    This is effin' huge.

    Thanks for today's first shot of hope.

  •  Well Heck, I may have to change my accounts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SecondComing

    These guys are actually factoring in the REAL costs!  That's that's . . . progressive!

  •  Fantastic news! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patricia Taylor, raincrow

    Thanks so much for letting us know.  These are dark times and it's nice to read something that brings a smile to my face.

  •  The banks are part of the money pit. Good news! (0+ / 0-)
  •  Mining issues are one of the more disconcerting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, polar bear

    problems we face in this country.

    I remember the mine collapse a few years back in WV where the 9 people trapped and all but one died. It was simple cave in (not that it is ever simple) by modern mining standards. Safety protocols could be utilized to protect these workers.

    About a month or two after that accident a mine in Canada trapped something like 40 people in the mine. All 40 of them survived. Canada requires mines to have safe rooms stocked with adequate food, water, oxygen and emergency lighting to last 3 days for the number of miners that could be working at any one time.

  •  Gotta love such success stories (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcjoan

    but that photo...how could they not?

    My loving marriage of 17 years is now a symbol of inequality and discrimination.

    by coigue on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:53:32 AM PST

  •  A little "good news" is welcome (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, MKSinSA

    In a country half-full of misery.

    "I'd like to be a president [known] as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace." -- George W. Bush

    by SecondComing on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:53:38 AM PST

  •  Hooray for BA! (0+ / 0-)

    They also seem to've stayed aloof from the subprime crisis.

    Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest... Gibbon

    by Dinclusin on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:53:57 AM PST

  •  Send thank you's to BofA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow

    Dogs and corporations can be trained with positive reinforcement.

  •  on BofA (4+ / 0-)

    While this may seem like a half measure, it is a step. So long as we have the profit only corporate structure we have in place today, we should try to recognize companies that at least make an effort to do the right thing as well.

    Generally speaking the people in corporations are not evil but our laws require that their only purpose is to make profit for their shareholders. Until that fundamental fact changes corporations will never naturally behave morally.

    •  agree, debatable, but some shareholders are (0+ / 0-)

      demanding that their corporations take into account human lives and the environment in calculating profit.  That said, yes, we need some progressive, corporate-type lawmakers to convince Congress to change the laws.  I read an opinion somewhere that suggested leaving that law alone (probably because it would never pass, esp. with the Republicans), and instead to hold the corporations responsible for their harm.  Since they are considered individuals, then let them be prosecuted for harm done just as an individual would be.  

      don't know enough about corporate law to know which way would be better, but it's definitely a subject that maybe we kossacks can bring to the forefront.

  •  Why? Why must you give me this encouraing news (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    and cause me to hate my bank a little less? lol  I can't forgive them for their terrible IVR, but this a great stance for them to take.  

    "and the people bowed and prayed to the neon gods they'd made" The Sound of Silence

    by electricgrendel on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:58:22 AM PST

  •  BofA (through Working Assets) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patricia Taylor

    is my credit card.

    i was pleased to see this, too. it's a start.

    Just say "no" to negative thinking.

    by birdbrain64 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:58:51 AM PST

  •  Note the (5+ / 0-)

    importance of the action of an environmental organization (actually organizations) in helping to make this reality. Kudos to RAN and others.

    •  this is exactly right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, A Siegel, polar bear

      while NRDC deserves credit for this victory, credit is also due to the other organizations that have worked so hard for so long to fight mountaintop removal.

      this is also why it's important to diversify your support of multiple environmental organizations. NRDC is special to me, and i actually had the opportunity to work for them years back, but i always try to spread the love to local, as well as regional or national, organizations.

      indeed, mountaintop removal is a classic case of an environmental disaster that would never have been addressed, were it not for purely local groups screaming into the wind, seemingly in vain, for so long.

      every little (or big) step brings us that much closer to ending coal mining once and for all.

      freedom isn't free, but it isn't dumb either.

      by astro on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:44:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  BofA screwed me on my credit cards (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alt hitman, polar bear

    i had with them...so i left...if they could only be so "thoughtful" for individuals as well as for causes they support

  •  thanks BofA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, polar bear

    As a stockholder, I am THRILLED with this decision.

  •  Plus ca change... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, MKSinSA, polar bear

    Assuming they have any money left, private equity will come right in through the back door, and fund everything the banks won't touch.

    I don't really know how things are going with all the money being pulled out of private equity for capital calls right now, but over the past few years there has been a lot of money invested by private equity in dirty mining companies to skirt public outcry.

  •  OMG (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow

    the destruction in that picture...glad to hear there is good news..It's very troubling that CEO's in offices who don't know the land made decisions that could do so much damage.

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:14:46 PM PST

  •  This is very righteous, very righteous! (0+ / 0-)

    Now the worm is turning away from the neocons/theocons/neofascists...

    Wow.

    Ugh. --UB.

  •  Mountaintop coal is destructive, underground... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow

    Underground coal mining is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, with long term negative health consequences. The burning of coal has long term negative health consequences for us all.

    Why don't we do the sensible thing here, save our mountaintops from coal strip mining, massive intrusion by 120ft 5MW windmills and go nuclear?

    Wind power, if you take a serious look at it, is not all its hyped up to be. Germany and Denmark have good experience with that, it's costing them a fortune yet they're still building 26 new record sized multi-megawatt coal plants that will eat thousands of tons of coal a day.

    The simple fact of the matter is that wind power cannot replace coal or nuclear. It's too intermittent to even be worthwhile to reduce the capacity factor of a coal plant, since when you drop capacity efficiency also drops. It can pair well with nearby hydroelectric capacity, and to a lesser degree natural gas plants. All this means that regardless of what you think, reality is going to catch up to us (as it has Germany) and we're going to be faced with the simple choice of nuclear or coal.

    If we're really vehement about blocking coal mining here though, we'll instead import it from China or some other country that doesn't care if local people get crushed by a bulldozers. What would that be called, environment destruction colonialism?

    •  Also, Windmills screw up a much larger area than. (0+ / 0-)

      To get the same energy from windmills that they're getting from stripping one mountaintop you'll need to dot at least one hundred mountain tops with windmills. Honestly, given the choice, I'd rather sacrifice one mountaintop (that can be reclaimed later if done right) than all the hills around me to freakishly large windmills which totally dwarf trees, ravines, hills and every other natural or man made thing in the area.

      I'm also biased though, because I lived in Germany and got really tired of seeing windmills everywhere, and the local Gemeindschaft (community) was protesting against them. Basically big wind developers come in, pay some farmer a thousand Euros a year and put up a big wind farm on his lot. The local village has little say in the matter since the allowance is done at the Landkreis level (county?).

      Feed in tariffs make this whole process disgustingly profitable and distort incentives so you get wind farms where they're easy to put up instead of where they make sense. Sadly, we've taken Germany as a MODEL for our feed in tariffs, but we've got even less restrictive land use laws. Luckily, we have a lot more land to despoil - like Crawford Texas, it could make a great wind farm.

      •  Wrong on multiple counts (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow, polar bear, greenmama, Poycer

        I'm not sure where you're getting the numbers, but several mountains have been worked up as potential wind farms (Coal River Mtn. for example) and demonstrated that the area would be less, the energy return over two decades would be higher, the jobs created would be more, and the tax revenues would be greater.

        Plus mountaintop removal does not get reclaimed. These mountains are gone forever, and we've already lost 400.

        •  I would love to see that study on Coal River Mtn (0+ / 0-)

          Thermodynamically, that assertion simply makes no sense. The only way such a calculation could possibly work out is if the "area" utilized by wind mills is counted as just the base of the windmill, instead of the real area it uses which is the amount of space it makes undesirable for development. Even if it produced more total energy, it still doesn't matter because we don't have a cheap efficient mass energy storage. We demand electricity constantly, not a certain amount of electricity whenever.

          Creating more jobs is also actually not a desirable aspect, that means it requires more labor. I'd be more impressed if it created fewer jobs.

          By reclaim, I don't mean the mountain is rebuilt, just that you cover the thing up with dirt so it looks reasonably normal. That has been done.

          http://www.j31.co.uk/...

          Even if you just extract the coal and leave, it'll start recovering pretty quickly.

          If you want a realistic, non-theoretical idea of how much space coal vs. wind mills "require" then look at Germany in Google earth.

          50.486992,7.759416 (Big coal mines around there, they've provided Germany coal for over a century)

          All the rest of Germany... windmills, they've provided Germany under 10% of their energy for under a decade. They're hard to see from the air though since their vertical. But they've already started replacing old ones because they can't find locations for new ones... what does that tell you about relative space usage?

          http://www.windkraftgegner.de/
          http://www.csmonitor.com/...

          •  Recovery not so simple. "Looks normal" not normal (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            polar bear

            Not after entire watersheds have been destroyed along with their biota; not after groundwater aquifers have been compromised; not after disturbed geologic strata begin leaking acid leachates; I could go on and on and on and on. Simply putting the dirt back in place and planting some trees does not "restore" stripmined watersheds.

            I agree that windfarms will have relatively limited applicability -- they are also hard on bird populations (although I think that could be ameliorated with sufficient research into structures designed to reroute birds around windfarms). But there are vast swaths of relatively unpopulated, always-windy high plains all across the planet; transmission technology and corridors becomes the problem.

            No free lunches. YET. And still I figure the ever-resourceful H. sap will figure out a constellation of technologies that will help us overcome our energy limitations.

            •  don't know if this still happens, but not so long (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              raincrow

              ago, when it flooded, people's homes would float away in a mass of coal sludge.

              •  Yup (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                raincrow, polar bear

                http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                Coal power has caused the deaths of more people than any other energy production method.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                Hydro comes in as second most deadly. It's also immensely environmentally destructive, destroying watersheds, stopping silt flow destroying habitat and so on.

                Per KWH, nuclear power has caused the least environmental destruction and the least human deaths of any electricity production method. (People dying during upkeep of windmills in Germany have already made wind more dangerous than nuclear per KWH, unless you have an off the wall belief about the number of deaths caused by Chernobyl).

            •  You're right about that. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              raincrow, polar bear

              You're entirely correct, it might look roughly normal, but it is biologically far from it. I kind of thought you meant that there's a big hole in the ground for hundreds of years - that isn't the case.

              I agree that windfarms will have relatively limited applicability -- they are also hard on bird populations (although I think that could be ameliorated with sufficient research into structures designed to reroute birds around windfarms). But there are vast swaths of relatively unpopulated, always-windy high plains all across the planet; transmission technology and corridors becomes the problem.

              Yeah, I'm all for wind farms out on private property where it's not next to someone's house or heavy bird migratory paths. The problem is that those lightly populated high planes, like in Texas, are often far from hydro power. That makes it hard to use the electricity in an efficient way.

              Transmission technology is already there. But it's actually pretty expensive, Florida is debating whether its worth it to build a nuclear plant because the lines to it are going to be so expensive. The cost of building lines to wind farms, is even greater. Wind has an average capacity factor of ~20%, but to use all of that the lines need to be built to 100% to transmit all the power when the wind really blows. That makes wind transmission lines by definition about 5 times more expensive...

              The constellation of techs that we really need are some cheap energy storage techs! Ultra-capacitors, or something of that sort, that's the key to making wind, solar and electric cars practical. Energy storage is our #1 problem!

      •  Cerenkov,please meet the NRC. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        polar bear

        Shorter The Progressive majority:

        Windmills bad,very very bad. Nuclear,lots of nuclear very,very good.

        My eyes are glowing in the dark with anticipation of all that intense blue glowing fuel silently and cleanly( I hope) lighting up yur gameboys and wii and stuff.

        All this means that regardless of what you think, reality is going to catch up to us (...)  we're going to be faced with the simple choice of nuclear or coal.

        If we're really vehement about blocking coal mining here though, we'll instead import it from China or some other country that doesn't care ...would that be called, environment destruction colonialism?

        We already do that. We need to ban burning it and subsidize destructive mining here. No market means it won't pay for others to mine it to sell to us,
        either.

        That choice 'coal or nuclear' is absurdly simplistic. Figures a nuke shill would use it on this thread.

        "All this means that regardless of what you think" I got the only answer right here.
        Nukes forevah, forever nukes!

        Thank you for pointing out that all who see your posts don't have to bother thinking because you already have the answer and it glows as proof of your winning final solution.

        cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

        by Pete Rock on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:07:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Give me facts (0+ / 0-)

          We already do that. We need to ban burning it and subsidize destructive mining here. No market means it won't pay for others to mine it to sell to us,
          either.

          It's frustrating, because I understand why you're following this line of arguing. But you need to appreciate the practical limitations that our power generation technologies are subject to. Germany very, very much would love to follow your nuclear & coal free renewable grid, but it simply does not work, and it won't work for at least a decade. Their overly ambitious plan for renewable energy has them hitting 20 or 30% within a few decades.

          We're starting from well behind them. That means some other power generation technology is going to fill that other 70% - Germany has clearly decided this technology will be COAL.

          France has decided it will be nuclear. Actually, they decided that back in 1970, and they've had a mostly carbon free grid since the mid 90s. They accomplished a decade ago what Germany wants to accomplish with renewable sources four decades from now.

          That's reality. Sadly, most people in America are closer to your POV, so we're clearly steering towards a coal fired future, with a smattering of poorly placed and mostly inconsequential renewables.

          •  Facts? We don't need no facts!! we are Amurricans (0+ / 0-)

            "We don't
            need no stinking facts unless we make them up to suit whoever pays for us,like the political prostitutes (AKA Republicans, blue Dog Democrats.)

            OK.

            Nuclear is 19% or so of the total national electric  at present.

            The aging and ancient and oldest units are overdue for decommissioning or replacement. Some of them are situated in hazardous or high population centers or environmentally sensitive areas.

            They should shut down. Others in less problematic places should also be dismantled and replaced by a safe state of the art more efficient design that replaces them while dropping the total number out there. That's a political reality, rather than an ideal impossible total ban.  That might even raise the share amount of electric generated from the nuclear sector.

            At the same time full speed ahead with photo voltaic and photo thermal(especially in the desert SW areas where those are very attractive,and all the other options.

            Between conservation, high performance technologies,the drop off in demand with the sinking economy, and building out a dynamic high performance 21st Century electric grid to repace obsolete sagging passive Aluminum copper lines from 75  or 50 years  ago....we will be in good shape.

            Electric power growth will be in the area of replacing the fossil fueled(gasoline fleet) and coal burning after the carbon tax bites them in the housekeeping/clean burn demand area.

            cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

            by Pete Rock on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 03:49:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Credit crunch bad for dirty energy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    Any project that takes years to get a return on investment is unlikely to get credit cheap enough to make the project worthwhile. This includes nuclear and coal power stations, and oil and gas exploration. Wind, solar, and conservation have a much shorter time before they earn money.

    It may be that BoA is doing this for less than altruistic reasons, perhaps they think environmental lawsuits or regulation makes this too risky.

    •  Credit crunch is good for dirty energy (0+ / 0-)

      Nuclear is the only thing that has a long enough lead time to be unfeasible due to the credit crunch. Not a dirty technology though when done properly.

      Wind might gain a bit, but the economics aren't there unless the government steps in and mandates companies purchase it. Even then you need nearby hydro to make it a useful part of the grid (Denmark & N.Germany have Sweden).

      You can have a sub-critical coal plant up in under a year, a gas turbine in a few months. "Cleaner" more efficient coal plants are more expensive and have a longer payoff, so if the cost of capital rises companies will favor less efficient coal plants and the continued use of old dirty coal plants.

      Solar takes decades to pay off financially at current efficiencies, even with feed in tariffs. All things being equal, solar energy is worst off under the credit crunch.

      I could be wrong, but I don't think oil and gas companies are even interested in getting loans. They've got plenty of money to do whatever exploration they're inclined to do.

      •  No, it's not (0+ / 0-)

        Many of the companies now operating are revenue intensive operations that move a large amount of cash to get to a profit. That's not to say they're not profitable -- record year for most operators, even with a miserable 4th qtr -- but their their credit demands are high. I know for a fact that these guys are very worried about their credit access.

        Expect some consolidation in the industry as the shakier players aren't able to meet day to day obligations.

        •  That concerns all players in the energy industry (0+ / 0-)

          How does that disproportionately effect producers of "dirty" energy?

          If players with high credit demands are screwed, then nuclear is even better off. Not a single nuclear plant is actually under construction in the US. If the credit market actually gets that bad they just sit on their current plants and make piles or profit. The cost of fuel is almost trivial for nuclear, their biggest cost is operators and that's under $.02 a kwh.

          If anything it would screw companies with big investments in natural gas turbines. They need constant capital for an expensive fuel, and if one of their big industrial customers fails to pay their in immediate trouble.

        •  should be breaking these companies up, imo, (0+ / 0-)

          and making them public utilities again.

  •  Wooo Delaware! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow

    Not only do we get to claim the Vice Presdient and owning all your credit cards, but now we get to claim companies that save mountains!

    Bank of America is also 5 minutes away from my house.

  •  Putting a "deposit on our mountains" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    ..engendered visions of the stuff I clean off my windshield after a murder of crows hangs out for a while in my Mulberry tree.

    "I'd like to be a president [known] as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace." -- George W. Bush

    by SecondComing on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:32:39 PM PST

  •  Great job to all of you that made this happen (4+ / 0-)

    As you say, BofA's policy isn't perfect. It's much better, though, to be moving in the right direction than in no direction at all, or worse. Congrats to the folks that never give up on reversing the trend.

  •  Coal Mining & Anti-Matter (0+ / 0-)

    We need a better source of energy than coal. So why don't be just use anti-matter?  

    "Life is what you make it to be; there is no God above, or devil below. You can only do what you can, with what you have in the best way you can," (DEO)

    by DVDEOLVR on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:53:39 PM PST

  •  Big Ups to BofA, but there's room for improvement (0+ / 0-)

    Ya gotta recognize the big boys when they get something right -- or close to right, for once.

    I"d prefer to see them just cut off all mountaintop removal activity, rather than just "predominantly" mountaintop removal. But, ti's a positive step.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 01:12:01 PM PST

  •  It is something... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silverbird, raincrow, polar bear

    ... and something is better than nothing.

    Whatever was the reason that compelled them to make that statement, it was a very good statement to have been made.

  •  Thanks to Devilstower for promoting my diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear
  •  BofA sucks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    Personally I don't like BofA because of some of the things their credit card business does.

    My cynical side says that they are looking to raise rates on customers in trouble to try and screw them and figure it's easier to do this if they can point to something they have done nice lately.  Obama and Congress might just pass some sort of consumer protection laws and/or rewrite the bankruptcy laws again and this is a cheap way for them to avoid getting slammed.  I have no idea who is involved but the English government just gave the credit card companies playing with peoples rates in England a week or two to explain themselves before the government penalizes them...

    Read the weaselly words again as well.  "We therefore will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal."  First I'd double check if this actually applies to any company right now.  Are there mountaintop coal mining companies that don't also mine coal the old fashioned way?  Why not just a blanket "we won't do business with companies that engage in this practice"?

  •  How can we give a "thank you" (0+ / 0-)

    to BofA, as a group?

    I think, therefore I am. I think.

    by mcmom on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 03:31:24 PM PST

  •  Perhaps not perfect, but (0+ / 0-)
    I'm sure they had to craft the policy carefully so as not to violate any existing contractual obligations or their fiduciary duty to shareholders.  The fact is they acted while others including government looked on.  They deserve a lot of credit.  

    And what a ploy by NRDC!

  •  Thought this was one of those bogus diary titles (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    at first which would lead to a disappointing read, but decided to pay a little closer attention since it was in the DKos main body.  What a pleasant surprise.  Hope this bodes well for further positive trends by big business.  Even if small steps, they seem to be in the right direction.

    Kudos NRDC!!

  •  Don't discount the power of a good example (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear
    Banks are very,very tough and cautious on loans of any kind right now,especially the large ones.

    B of A probably did their due diligence and sensed the coal operators using MT removal have lost their free pass and get away with it mentality with the loss by the republicans and Obama's bent for another way.

    They could see a loan suddenly in difficulties
    as the payback in easy installments gets very hard when cleanup costs and a carbon tax gets figured in at the end of it.

    But give them some props, too.

      The recycling industry was really struggling in paper and plastics 20 years ago when Procter and  Gamble and McDonalds committed to a long term recycle content purchase. That stabilized and grew the market for post consumer waste and the use of 35% or more recycled paperboard and plastic containers with new products. Just those few springboarded a turn in the way busness is done.

    So it is bigger than one bank, it could be B of A has tipped over the row of dominos the ugly coal industry is right now. For a variety of reasons, some prudent, and some a step beyond. Which is what we need to see, not just a cheap jeer right now.

    cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

    by Pete Rock on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:19:22 PM PST

  •  when activist make successes- (0+ / 0-)

    it almost makes me cry. Thanks NRDC, and everyone who helped with this.

    I truely have trouble gauging the emotions of others, please be gentle (but point it out) if I offend. I have asperger's syndrome.

    by daeros on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 09:40:25 AM PST

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