Coal makes BoA’s Ken Lewis red in the face at AGM

Written by Becky Tarbotton

Topics: Coal, Finance

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Today’s Bank of America shareholder meeting was a packed house and CEO Ken Lewis was not having a very good day. Poor guy, first he had to deal with the crazy shareholder lady who launched into a monologue about how much she loved him, then with shareholder annoyance over the impending Countrywide deal and THEN there was coal. By the end of the meeting, I was quite sure that all that jaw clenching would have ground his teeth to nubs. By far the strongest showing at the event came from the eight people who spoke out against Bank of America’s financing of coal-fired power plants and Mountaintop Removal. Two coal-field residents (one of whom is a third-generation coal-miner) had this to say:

“I came all the way from Kentucky because I am trying to save my homeland from the total destruction caused by Mountaintop Removal (MTR) Coal Mining, which Bank of America is a leading financier of. The southern Appalachian Mountains have some of the most biodiverse forests in the world; MTR coal producers, funded by Bank of America, are exploding the tops off these mountains, and off our culture. This is not just about saving the climate, but also about the survival of our culture for our grandchildren and future generations.”
Carl Shoupe, Third generation Kentucky coal miner, city Council Member of Benham, Kentucky, and member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

“While Bank of America’s Carbon Principles are important, I live with the extraction end of coal mining—Mountaintop Removal coal mining is responsible for the destruction of more than a million acres of the world’s most ancient mountains, and the transformation of healthy mountain woodlands into toxic sludge that has clogged more than 700 miles of rivers and streams. Bank of America must stop funding Mountaintop Removal coal mining, and, instead, start investing in clean, renewable energies.”
Teri Blanton, a survivor of a Superfund toxic waste site near her home in Harlan County, Kentucky, one of the poorest counties in Appalachia.

Then two Charlotte residents spoke eloquently, one about why Bank of America’s coal investments made her concerned for her grandchildrens’ futures and the other about why she had transferred ALL her Bank of America credit cards, accounts and loan agreements to another bank. Coal.

When Matt and I spoke up about the the climate, economic and reputational risk of continuing to invest in coal-fired power plant and mountaintop removal, Ken really started to get red in the face, but the turning point came however when Matt Wasson from Appalachian Voices commented that Bank of America was becoming the “face of Mountaintop Removal.”

86% of Bank of America shareholders were represented by the people in that room, and many of them had clearly never heard about mountaintop removal before so this was a fantastic education for them and for the Board of Directors who were also present.

All in all, concerns over coal investments by far dominated the meeting and I’m quite certain that Bank of America got the message.

7 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Luke says:

    We should have sent you with Ken’s plaque for Fossil Fool of the Year 2008; winning an award might have brightened his day.

  2. Toben says:

    The picture in The Charlotte Observer is pretty priceless. Talk about getting kicked to the curb…

    http://www.charlotte.com/business/breaking_news/story/593288.html

  3. robert mayhew says:

    I am a shareholder of bank of america and would like to have some information about how to involve myself (my shares) in pushing this company to behave in a socially acceptable manner. In all spheres, environment, housing, employment, development, micro-loans(maybe). thank you for your help-ciao, bob -

  4. Interesting post. Seems BofA has two faces. If you read their 2006_Env_Report bullet point number 1 and 2 http://www.bankofamerica.com/environment/pdf/2006_Env_Report.pdf it appears to be in direct conflict with what Ken Lewis said in the board meeting concerning Mountain Top Coal Mining.

    I am curious if this is the same issue later when when the face of BofA states “the health of our company is dependent on the health of communities and our society.”

    Why is it then that when my own business suffered a $350,000 dollar loss as a result of a client breaking a contract, and the loss of more than 80% of our revenue, B of A, instead of working with us to help us get through the ruff times, as they said they would, choose to automatically take out more than $800 in our already narrow budget, without notifying us, and throw our account into overdrawn only to hit us with more than an additional $135 in over draft charges? Even after we specifically made sure we kept them abreast monthly of our situation. They even advised us they would work with us, yet they still penalized us? Does that sound like they are concerned with the local communities?

    They also have already had more than $50 million in customer accounts close down due to customers upset by false arrest according to http://www.boingboing.net/2006/11/15/bank-of-america-lose.html. Not to mention the issue around their “Credit Protection” program.

    So who do we believe? I believe the quote “Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you say goes into effect here don’t you?

    Certainly they are not telling the truth!

    I certainly hope that it is not the trickle down law at work…the actions of the troops is a reflection of the leadership.

    Seems that a portion of their 16 Billion in earnings are comprised of our misfortunes? No I cannot believe that, can I?

    Which face do you think will answer me back when I email Ken “From one CEO to another”?

    I’ll post the reply here and give Ken a chance to allow Bank Of America to demonstrate it’s spirit to America and the rest of the world.

    If it’s positive I’ll herald it on every blog post possible and declare Bank of America is the best bank ever. If not then I guess I will have to share which Bank has Already taken me to out lunch to try to win my business, knowing full well of my situation. The Regional manager, in charge of 6 banks also said she would personally transfer all my vendors and my bill pay clients into my new account at her bank for me so I won’t have to waist any more time with Bank Of America.

    Wow when was the last time a bank manager of 6 banks said that to you? Will Bank Of America take me to lunch or to the cleaners? Let’s see.

  5. Gene Harris says:

    I’m sick and tired about Mountain top removal crap. Apparently these Earth worshipers are mostly blind. they can’t see the cities of Wise and Norton Virginia where both cities are built upon srip mine spoil, or can they see the City of Hazard Kentucky also built upon strip mine spoil. even the Earth Worshipiers can’t understand that they wouldn’t be here unless their forefathers came here seeking jobs in the coal industry and them too were coal miners then selves.trying to kill the hand that feeds them. yep they got their compensation and Black Lung Checks and are living good now, and these same ones are getting sassy and don’t want anybody else to mine the coal. what I call these people Hypocrits. Mine coal, let the envionmentalist freeze to death in the dark.
    another, they would have to drive many miles if their Wally World was not here, and that Wally World was built on Strip mine spoil.keep jobs in Appalachia. create flat land so industry may come and we may
    live the American Dream.

  6. Gene Harris says:

    Just like the rest of you motley fools you don’t even understand about mining and mountain top removal. I have lived in mining all my life and it supported me all my life and they are some that are guilty of raising hell about mining that draw Black Lung Checks and Compensation what I have to say about people like that is you are hypocrits. this country is nothing but coal, gas, and,oil. next time you hypoctrits get in your car and drive it around remember the oil and gas in Appalachia let you do it next time we get tewenty below zero in this country don’t scream when theres not enough electricity to warm your motley hypocrit bodies.

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