On Sunday March 21st New York City based activist Reverend Billy along with members of The Church Of Life After Shopping delivered a mountain of mud to a Chase Bank in Manhattan along with a letter to CEO Jamie Dimon requesting that Chase Bank stop financing Mountaintop Removal in Appalachia.
Reverend Billy has just returned from Coal River Mountain near Dry Creek, West Virginia bringing a large amount of displaced, toxic mud back to New York City, where JP Morgan Chase is headquartered. The group procured enough mud to build similar mountains in at least a dozen Chase Banks in the New York City area and is launching an “as long it takes” campaign against Chase Bank.
“The Appalachian Mountain Region is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the country and cannot be sacrificed for dirty coal operations of this scale. We’re city people, taking responsibility for the far away impact of a bank we’ve got on every corner. We Love Mountains!” said the Reverend who has previously lambasted Chase Bank’s branch proliferation in New York City neighborhoods, as well as their practice of warehousing empty buildings in spite of record homelessness in the city.
Mountaintop removal, which provides a mere 7 percent of the nation’s coal, involves clear-cutting forests, blowing the tops off of mountains, and then dumping the debris into streambeds. In the process, drinking water is poisoned and air polluted with coal and rock dust creating catastrophic conditions for the people of Appalachia. Grave threats to health and property are also imposed by slurry pools, floods, cracked foundations, and mudslides.
JP Morgan Chase is the biggest US financier of mountaintop removal coal mining. According to Bloomberg, JP Morgan Chase maintains ongoing financial relationships with 5 of the top 10 corporate producers of mountaintop removal coal. These 5 companies: Massey Energy, International Coal Group, Arch Coal, CONSOL Energy, and TECO Energy were responsible for mountaintop removal mining nearly 38 million tons of coal in 2008 the most recent year with complete data.
* More than 7 percent of Appalachian forests have been cut down between 1985 and 2001.
* Over 1200 miles of streams have been permitted to be buried in valley fills. (for scale, this is a greater distance than the length of the entire Ohio River).
* Mountaintop removal mining, if it continues unabated, will cause a projected loss of more than 1.4 million acres by the end of the decade-an area the size of Delaware-with a concomitant severe impact on fish, wildlife, and bird species, not to mention a devastating effect on many neighboring communities.
* 800+ square miles of mountains are estimated to be already destroyed. This is equal to a one-quarter mile wide swath of destruction from New York to San Francisco.