At a raucous protest at Bank of America's annual shareholder's meeting—one that raged both inside and out—homeowners, students, Occupiers, and environmental activists gathered to air their grievances. Outside, over a thousand people took part in multiple marches. Inside, shareholder activists forced the CEO to field questions about exorbitant pay, the bank's habit of financing mountaintop removal coal mining, and their ongoing failure to address the mortgage crisis. Evidently, it got noisy.
One of the focuses of both arms of the protest was the fact that BofA finances coal companies that engage in mountaintop removal mining—the abominable practice of exploding mountain peaks to gain cheap access to their coal seams.
The Huffington Post liveblogged the proceedings, and caught the pertinent MTR bits:
Inside the shareholder meeting, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan just defended the company's financing of coal and mountaintop removal mining. "We adopted a policy 4 or 5 years ago that said we will not finance companies that primarily do mountaintop removal," Moynihan said at Wednesday's meeting. "And we've stuck to that policy."It's true that Bank of America (and its coal-friendly peer, Chase) ditched some of the more egregious companies engaged primarily in mountaintop removal—but, as Huffpo notes, they've kept pouring funds into the pockets of companies that do MTR in addition to a bunch of other stuff. Not much better. Huffpo recorded another amazing anecdote:
The trouble, of course, is that the company continues to finance big coal companies with diverse operations, including massive mountaintop removal activities.
"A catastrophe is happening on your watch," one shareholder said, directing her comments to Moynihan.
Noting that 19 peer-reviewed scientific studies in the past two years have indicated that mountaintop removal studies causes birth defects, cancer and other deadly ailments, Coal River Mountain Watch president Bob Kincaid took BofA CEO Brian Moynihan to task for continuing to finance companies that engage in mountaintop removal mining.As well they should have. I jeered a bit myself—granted, from hundreds of miles away and in the safety of my apartment, but still.
"You are part of the poisoning of Appalachia and so is every one of your directors and so is every one of your shareholders," Kincaid said. "You are part of the destruction of an entire region of the country."
"Sir, our environmental team will take a look at it. We look at it all the time," Moynihan said. The crowd responded with jeers.
Outside, one of the three marches was dedicated to the environmental destruction Bank of America helps enable with its unscrupulous investing practices.
Scan Huffpo's liveblog for a nice overview of the day's action.