Bank of America Divests from Mountaintop Removal, Refocuses on “Clean Coal”

  • Published on December 5th, 2008

On Thursday, Bank of America announced that it would be pulling all of its investments in coal companies that engage in the environmentally destructive technique of mining known as mountaintop removal.[social_buttons]


After significant pressure from the National Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network and a whole host of other activist groups, Bank of America conceded to withdrawing financial support of multinational coal companies like Massey Energy, which is widely known as one of the worst perpetrators of environmental offenses in Appalachia. The bank’s official policy statement reads:

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.

While this is an important step in stopping the practice of mountaintop removal, altogether, the Bank of America’s bold statement on MTR turned out to fall a bit short of miraculous. In fact, the banking giant now plans to invest more money in the unproven ‘clean coal’ technology of carbon capture and storage. So while this represents great progress in eliminating support for environmentally destructive practices, the coal industry is continuing to get off scot-free. Nonetheless, this does represent the first major commitment by an American financial institution to some level of environmental responsibility.

Interestingly enough, this big announcement comes at the heels of news that the Environmental Protection Agency is supporting a proposed Bush Administration rollback of regulations on mountaintop removal in Appalachia. The stream buffer zone, enacted in 1983, prohibited the dumping of ‘overburden’ within 100 feet of any waterway. The revision to this rule completely eliminates the stream buffer zone, allowing mining companies to bury the headwaters of mountain streams – of which over 2000 miles have already been adversely affected by valley fills since 1985.

Related:
Bank of America’s Coal-Funding Concessions Delight Climate Activists
Bush Ignores Clean Water Act in New Mountaintop Mining Regs

Photo Credit: ConspiracyofHappiness via Flickr under a Creative Commons License





About the Author

Taylor Shelton is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky. He earned his B.A. is geography and political science from UK in December 2008. Taylor has, among other positions, served as the co-coordinator of UK Greenthumb, the largest student-run environmental club in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He lives in Lexington, KY where he can be seen biking, blogging, walking the dog and spending unreasonable amounts of time on the internet. he also runs BlueGrassRoots, the progressive community blog in Kenucky, and blogs about Kentucky environmental politics at GreenKY