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The Banks Most Responsible for Blasting Mountains and Ruining Appalachia

See which banks are still financing mountaintop removal coal mining and ensuring the destruction of the world's oldest mountains.



The Rainforest Action Network and Sierra Club just released their latest mountaintop removal financing report card, Policy and Practice.(A big tip of the cap to Rachel Cernansky at Treehugger, who was on this first.) The report ranks ten of the world’s largest banks on their financing of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining projects and lending policies.

Basically, the banks are evaluated on their official statements about MTR lending practices, and how well their practices align with those statements.

They found that PNC, Citi, and UBS are the banks most responsible for the ongoing injustice and devastation of MTR coal mining.

Also, credit where credit is due (no pun intended): Credit Suisse was named the "best performing bank." RAN explained, "In 2010 the bank made its policy public and transparent. The bank has no exposure to coal-mining companies that practice mountaintop removal extraction."

Here's the full "report card":

Long-time readers know how I personally feel about mountaintop removal, a practice which I don't hesitate to call one of the gravest injustices—environmental, social and economic—that endures in our country.

Of all the stubborn, sorry ways we keep ourselves tethered to a fossil fuel-based economy, nothing is as bang-my-head-on-the-desk outrageously bullheaded and dangerous as mountaintop-removal. The practice—essentially blowing the tops off of mountains to get at the coal seams beneath—is so catastrophically destructive that it seems like something that we'd be frowning upon from afar, an archaic system used in China or South America or some former Soviet state. But it's happening here in America—in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, on a scale that's virtually unimaginable, laying waste to our national land heritage and ruining communities. Our hands are all dirty (most Americans rely on coal-fired electricity), but many aren't even aware of this great ongoing sin that plagues the Appalachian region and its people.

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Don't take my word for it. Take a closer look:

This sort of pressure really does make a difference. Six of the eight banks that have official MTR policies announced them after the first RAN/Sierra Club report in April of 2010. But the pressure must be kept up. Mary Anne Hitt of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign writes, "Those who fund mountaintop removal coal mining are lighting the fuse that leads to the devastation of communities, waterways and landscapes across Appalachia." If your bank is one with poor grades in the report card above, you can send them a message with the video above here. Or you can move your money out of there to make sure that your hard-earned cash isn't funding mountaintop-removal.

All images from the RAN/Sierra Club "Policy and Practice" report.

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