This week I attended both Citi and Bank of America’s annual shareholder meetings. As you know, these two banks are the leading funders of the coal industry, mountaintop removal coal mining, and the expansion of coal-fired powerplants in the United States.
At Citi, we made a small amount of progress, at Bank of America, we got the cold shoulder and I need your help.
Both meetings had powerful protests outside run by RAN and our friends Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Appalachian Voices, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Rising Tide, SEAC and SDS and powerful statements by frontline activists inside. In New York we brought forth a shareholder’s resolution calling on Citi to cease financing of coal-fired power plants and mountaintop removal coal mining and Appalachian activist Maria Gunnoe spoke movingly about the devestation caused by Citi’s coal investments. She introduced herself to Citi CEO Vikram Pandit:
“I come from a place where your clients and customers use “mountaintop removal” coal mining to extract seams of coal by literally exploding the tops off of mountains and dumping them into nearby valley. They have little consideration about whether people are living near their mining sites or not. And they have little consideration of the impact of their operations on the diversity of the mountains and wilderness and citizens of Appalachia.”
I then asked Citi’s CEO and Chairman if they would join me on a flight over Appalachia to witness the effects of mountaintop removal financed by their bank. To my surprise, they said yes, and I’m arranging the trip right now.
The next day in Charlotte, NC at the Bank of America shareholders meeting, CEO Ken Lewis was much less willing to consider our views.
Again I was joined by frontline activists, including Carl Shoupe, a third-generation coal miner from Kentucky who explained he “came all the way from Kentucky because I am trying to save my homeland from the total destruction caused by Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, which Bank of America is a leading financier of.”
Speaker after speaker asked about coal and CEO Ken Lewis got visibly frustrated as people described Bank of America as the “face of mountaintop removal.” But he wouldn’t commit to any action.
And he’s not going to unless he keeps hearing from you. So today I need you to call him tell him one thing: Stop funding mountaintop removal.
We brought our message, but your voice is the key to changing their ways.