THE BLOG
01/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Victory for Appalachia! Bank of America Retreats from Mountaintop Removal

After all the bad news about mountaintop removal how about a little success?

Yesterday, Bank of America, a lead financier of coal, announced that they will be phasing out financing for companies that practice mountaintop removal coal mining, a highly destructive and controversial method of coal extraction. Bank of America's decision is a giant leap forward in the fight against mountaintop removal, which has devastated Appalachian communities and the mountains and streams on which they depend.

The decision is also a testament to the hard work of Appalachian communities and anti-coal activists across the country, whose collective pressure left Bank of America with little choice but to abandon its support for this barbaric form of resource extraction. There is a powerful movement for clean energy in this country and we are winning!

As the new policy states:

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.

At Rainforest Action Network we have been pressuring Bank of America since October 2007 to cease financing mountaintop removal mining and coal-fired power plants and to develop a comprehensive climate policy. We're pleased with Bank of America's announcement and will look forward to learning the details of which coal companies will be ineligible for financing and also when this phase out will be completed. In the meantime, let's hope that Citi, JPMorgan Chase and other banks follow Bank of America's lead.

On a larger scale, banks hold the purse strings for the fossil fuel industry and have tremendous influence in determining whether we continue to destroy our climate and our communities, or whether we start to fund the future with a green new deal that creates a clean energy future. Bank of America's pledge to phase out lending to mountaintop removal mining is an important step in the right direction.