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Will Banks Ever Stop Financing Mountaintop Removal?

Will Banks Ever Stop Financing Mountaintop Removal?

Mountaintop removal (MTR) is a rather nasty form of coal mining which basically blows the top off of mountains in Southern Appalachia. Nine banks examined by a report published in May by the Sierra Club and the Rainforest Action Network provided almost $4 billion in loans and underwriting to companies practicing MTR since January 2008. The nine banks examined by the report are Bank of America, Citi, Credit Suisse, GE Capital Corp, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, PNC, UBS, and Wells Fargo.

The report urges banks and financial institutions to “adopt strict lending practices when it comes to mountaintop removal” to prevent environmental and health disasters plus limit “reputational risks.”

There is good news. Three of the banks examined have environmental policies in place regarding MTR. The bank with the best policy is Credit Suisse which received a “Grade A.” Credit Suisse adopted its policy in September 2009, and sent a letter to RAN and Sierra Club which said that it “seeks to promote responsible mining practices that protect the environment, ensure worker health and safety, and engage the public through consultation and disclosure.” According to the report, Credit Suisse does not finance MTR.

The report gave Wells Fargo a “Grade B” for its environmental policy which states that it is incorporate environmental assessments into its credit policies with the coal industry. Although Wells Fargo still finances MTR, it told RAN and the Sierra Club it will produce a publicly available statement on MTR in 2010.

Bank of America received a “Grade C” mainly because its environmental policy adopted in December 2008 stated that it will “phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal.”

Rebecca Tarbotton, the executive director of the Rainforest Action Network, said in a published statement, “Bottom line, as access to capital becomes more constrained it will be harder for mining companies to finance the blowing up of America’s mountains.” In other words, the recession provides an opportunity for activists to push banks to practice environmentally responsible lending.

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53 comments

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1:21PM PDT on May 20, 2011

Thanks, really would like this to be updated. Didn't really find anything on a quick web search.

7:02AM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

Make mountaintop removal illegal and no bank will touch it with a ten-foot ledger.

7:02PM PDT on Sep 8, 2010

Kudos to Credit Suisse, but this really needs to be stopped.

10:41AM PDT on Sep 8, 2010

My gosh, never imagined WF would fund something like that.
I hope this stops, we need to stop destroying our planet.

2:54PM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

This crap has to stop. Glad I don't bank with any of them!

11:03AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

Daniel G: Thanks for sharing your personal story. I hope North Mountain in West Virginia will be saved and that this type of mountain top removal will no longer be financed by any banks or corporations.

10:39PM PDT on Sep 6, 2010

it needs to be stopped

12:22PM PDT on Sep 6, 2010

This issue is very near and dear to my heart. Let me be to the first to tell you, companies are not just shearing off the tops of mountains for coal. They are also far less picky about what type of resource they will destroy an ecosystem for.

I live on North Mountain in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. North Mountain Shale is in the process of pushing applications for permits to strip mine the mountain. For what, you ask? Shale, to make bricks. They want to destroy my mountain for bricks. Not for energy, to help support our country. Nothing so noble as that.

Never you mind the millions of shale quarries scattered throughout WV and surrounding states. North Mountain is so rich with the stuff I guess it offered an opportunity so lucrative the NMS just couldn't pass it up. Well, my community and I are doing all we can to oppose this, but we need more support, both in terms of manpower and financial backing. It may already be too late.

Anyway, just thought you guys might be interested in hearing that. I don't know who the financial power behind North Mountain Shale is, but I'm sure it is one of the bigger name banks. Definitely something I ought to look into. Thanks for the info.

7:31AM PDT on Sep 6, 2010

Thank you for sharing with us.

7:28AM PDT on Sep 6, 2010

Thank you for sharing with us.

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