Bank of America will no longer finance mountaintop removal coal mining
December 4, 2008
"Bank of America is particularly concerned about surface mining conducted through mountain top removal in locations such as central Appalachia," the company said in a statement. "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."
Bank of America is currently involved with eight of the U.S.'s top mountaintop removal coal-mining operators, according to the Rainforest Action Network, an environmental activist group that is campaigning against coal use.
Photo of a mountaintop removal site at Pickering Knob, in Logan County, WV. Appalachian Voices flight courtesy of SouthWings. Photo by Kent Kessinger and hosted by ILoveMountains.org.
Bank of America says it will continue to finance development of carbon capture and storage, a technology that some energy experts say is decades from viability, and claims it has developed a policy that will ensure it "plays a significant role as a leading financial services company in promoting the responsible use of coal."
RAN, along with an increasing number of environmental groups, maintains there is no such thing as "responsible use" of coal due it the adverse environmental impacts of its mining and burning, including air, soil, and water pollution; greenhouse gas emissions; and destruction of mountains, streams, and other habitats.
Some entreprenuers are looking at new ways to reduce the effects of coal burning once the fossil fuel is mined. Calera, a California-based start up, aims to use emissions from coal-fired power plants as a feedstock for cement, trapping carbon dioxide and other noxious compounds. The technology offers the potential to transform cement production — presently a source of carbon emissions — into a process that removes carbon from the atmosphere. However the technology would not address the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining.