Thursday, December 4, 2008

Victory for Mountaintops!

An earlier blog post described the devastating effects that coal extraction by mountaintop removal has on the environment and the health and well being of nearby communities in Appalachia (watch this video). Over 450 mountaintops have been destroyed, one of which is shown in the photo [click photo to enlarge]. Environmentalists have pressured banks, including Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and others, to stop financing coal extraction via mountaintop removal. In a victory for mountaintops, Bank of America decided yesterday to phase out financing for companies that practice mountaintop removal coal mining!

“Bank of America’s decision is a giant leap forward in the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining, which has devastated Appalachian communities and the mountains and streams they depend on,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, director of Rainforest Action Network’s Global Finance Campaign, which has pressed Bank of America since October 2007 to cease financing of mountaintop removal mining and coal-fired power plants. “We hope that Citi, JP Morgan Chase and other banks follow Bank of America’s lead.” Read more here.

Bank of America’s new policy comes just one day after the Bush administration approved a rule that will make mountaintop removal mining easier for coal companies by allowing them to dump rock and dirt from the mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. That rule has been bitterly contested by environmentalists and Appalachian communities. Edward C. Hopkins, a policy analyst at the Sierra Club, said: “The E.P.A.’s own scientists have concluded that dumping mining waste into streams devastates downstream water quality. By signing off on this rule, the agency has abdicated its responsibility.” Read more here.

The hope is that through continued pressure from environmentalists, other banks will be moved to follow Bank of America's lead and help put a complete end to mountaintop removal.

Massey Energy plans to mine more than 6,000 acres of the Coal River Mountain, one of the last mountains left intact in the beautiful Coal River Valley of West Virginia. As an alternative, local residents propose building a wind farm. To help the West Virginia residents save the mountain, and move the Governor to shift from a coal economy to a renewable energy economy, sign this petition.

Barack Obama has said that he wanted strong enforcement of the Clean Water Act, and that “We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal, than simply blowing the tops off mountains.” Let's hold him to these promises. In addition, let's push him to accelerate the transition from coal to renewable energy sources. Coal is not a renewable resource, and there is no such thing as 'clean coal'. To e-mail president-elect Obama and let him know that we need Clean Energy, not 'clean coal', click here.

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