The Banks Most Responsible for Blasting Mountains and Ruining Appalachia The Banks Most Responsible for Blasting Mountains and Ruining Appalachia
The Planet

The Banks Most Responsible for Blasting Mountains and Ruining Appalachia

by Ben Jervey

April 9, 2011

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.

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.

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.

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
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The Banks Most Responsible for Blasting Mountains and Ruining Appalachia