Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Requests Meeting with Jamie Dimon Re: MTR

Written by Annie Sartor

Topics: Coal

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Bill McKibben, Gloria Reuben, and RAN’s own Mike Brune have all sent letters to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon asking him to stop JPMC’s financing of the coal industry and mountaintop removal coal mining. We got word today that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just sent his letter to Jamie Dimon. Read it below:

RFK

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Waterkeeper Alliance
50 S. Buckhout St. #302
Irvington, NY 10533

November 18, 2009

Mr. Jamie Dimon
Chairman and CEO
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
270 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10017

Dear Mr. Dimon:

I am writing to request a meeting with you to discuss JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s support of the coal industry, particularly mountaintop removal coal mining. Mountaintop removal in Appalachia is the worst environmental tragedy in American history and it is being financed by your bank. On the surface it appears that Chase has a commitment to environmental and social issues, but your company’s decision to lend significant amounts of money to Massey and other mountaintop removal coal companies belies that commitment.

My father visited Appalachia in 1966 and was horrified by the strip mining activities there, which pale in comparison to today’s mountaintop removal coal mining. He found then, as now, that Appalachia, with our nation’s richest natural resources, was home to America’s poorest populations, its worst education system, and its highest illiteracy and unemployment rates. In 1966, 46,000 West Virginia miners were collecting salaries and pensions and reinvesting in their communities. Today, mechanization like mountaintop removal coal mining has shrunk that number to fewer than 11,000 and the coal industry provides only two percent of the jobs in Central Appalachia: Wal-Mart employs more people than the coal industry does in West Virginia.

In recent years, West Virginia’s coal barons, many with financing from JPMorgan Chase, have flattened one million acres of pristine mountain landscapes, cut down 500 of the largest mountains in the state and ruined 2,000 miles of rivers and streams. If you continue to finance them they will soon have flattened an area the size of Delaware. Now Massey Coal, with your financial support, has threatened Coal River Mountain. Coal River Mountain is the last intact mountain in the Coal River Mountain range, and the tallest peak to be destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia. Massey Energy, the largest mountaintop removal coal mining company in the nation, has moved heavy equipment up Coal River Mountain and begun barbarically blasting away at the ancient mountain. These actions are endangering the lives of citizens by blasting precipitously close to the largest coal sludge impoundment in the nation.

You can stop this Appalachian apocalypse before we lose Coal River Mountain forever. JPMorgan Chase has underwritten nearly $1 billion in recent financing to Massey Energy. You can leverage JPMorgan Chase’s existing relationship with this company by calling on Massey to stop destroying Coal River Mountain. More fundamentally, though, JPMorgan Chase must stop funding mountaintop removal coal mining and companies like Massey Energy, who show little regard for the environmental and social impacts of their actions.

Coal is not a good investment in Appalachia or our future. Investing in conservation creates 3.8 as many jobs as coal, and mass transit investments create more than 6 times as many jobs. Investing in renewable energy like wind and solar power creates at least 2.8 times the number of jobs as coal for the same investment. Coal River Mountain, before Massey began destroying it last month, had enough wind power potential to provide electricity for more than 150,000 homes, and would have pumped $20 million into the local economy each year of construction and $2 million a year after construction, along with stable, safe long-term jobs and long-term tax revenue for the state of West Virginia. Investing in a clean energy economy provides jobs and a sustainable, diversified local economy that mountaintop removal coal mining simply cannot.

I welcome the opportunity to sit down with you to discuss these issues.

Respectfully,

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
President
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