Chase: Stop Funding MTR- Reportback from Boulder, CO

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Coal

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Nice report back from Susan in Boulder:

“I just got back from the local branch of Chase bank.

First I stood outside and asked people coming in and out of the building, “Excuse me. Do you bank here?” in a friendly voice. (The building also houses some other offices.)

First Encounter: A woman, maybe about 30 “Excuse me. Do you bank here?”
“Yes.”
“Are you aware that Chase Bank is the largest funder of Mountaintop Removal Mining?”
“No. Really?” she said, with honest curiosity – and obviously recognizing what MRM is.
I offered the brochure and continued, “I used to have a Chase credit card, because I could earn free United Airlines miles with it. But last month I canceled the card. The bank gets 3% of all purchases.
I figure I’ve given Chase Bank three or four hundred dollars a year for the last five years. I don’t want to be funding Mountaintop Removal Mining.”
“Hmmm. Who do you bank with?”
“Thanks,” she said, and got in her SUV. My impression is that she will read the brochure.

Second Encounter: A woman, maybe about 35 “Excuse me. Do you bank here?”
“Yes.”
“Are you aware that Chase Bank is the largest funder of Mountaintop Removal Mining?”
“No.” I got the cold shoulder and she rushed into the building. (I’m glad she wasn’t my first experience!)

Third Encounter: An elderly gentleman, perhaps 70 years old.
“Excuse me. Do you bank here?”
“Well, sort of. My mother has an account here and I help her with her banking.” (My estimate: his mother must be in her 90′s.) “Are you aware that Chase Bank is the largest funder of Mountaintop Removal Mining?”
“No, I didn’t know.”
I offered the brochure and continued, “I used to have a Chase credit card,. But last month I canceled the card. The bank gets 3% of all purchases. I figure gave Chase Bank three or four hundred dollars last year.”
“And you don’t want your money to fund the mining.”
“That’s right.”
He smiled wanly. “I’ll show this to my mother.” (This feels less likely to result in action than the first encounter, but at least maybe the word will get out.

I now had one brochure left, and the RAN letter I had printed out and signed. I went inside, and asked to speak to the manager. Everyone was very polite. However the branch manager was not in. After some explanation and a little waiting I got to speak to the assistant branch manager. She asked, “How can I help you?” I introduced myself, we shook hands, and I asked if we could sit down to talk. We went into a cubicle. I think I detected a European accent.
“I live about a half mile from here in the Martin Acres neighborhood. Over the last couple of years I have received about a dozen offers for a gift of a $100 deposit if I would open a free checking account with Chase Bank. However I am very concerned with Mountaintop Removal Mining. Are you aware that Chase Bank is the largest funder of Mountaintop Removal Mining?” I got a blank stare. I opened my last brochure on the table for her to see.
“Are you familiar with Mountaintop Removal Mining, where the top of a mountain is blown off to mine inside the mountain? Did you know that Chase Bank funds this?”
She shook her head no.
I continued, “Here in Boulder we look at the Flatirons as the signature of home.”
She nodded.
“If a mining company came along and blew up our mountain, and dumped the waste in the valley, this would ruin our drinking water. And we wouldn’t have the Flatirons anymore. That is what they are doing to mountains in Appalachia.”
She looked at the picture. She appeared puzzled and concerned. So either she was extremely well rehearsed, or she really had no idea that her company did this.
“I used to have a Chase credit card, because I could earn free United Airlines miles with it. I liked getting miles. But last month I canceled the card. Chase bank gets 3% of all credit card
purchases.” (She nodded in assent.) “I figure I’ve given Chase Bank three or four hundred dollars a year for at least five years. I canceled my Visa card because I don’t want to be funding Mountaintop Removal Mining. So Chase Bank has lost a potential checking account customer and a real credit card customer because of Mountaintop Removal Mining. And I’m doing what I can to tell my friends.
“You’ve got better choices. In Appalachia there is Wind. Mountaintop Removal Mining employs very few people and destroys the community. Chase could fund Wind energy which would employ more people and be kind to the environment.”
I took out the letter, and pointed out that the logo was RAN’s but that the address was my personal address, in the neighborhood, and it was my personal signature at the bottom.
“What I ask you to do is to take this to your superiors. The people at the top will only change their policy if they hear from enough customers.”
She agreed to pass it along. We stood up. I thanked her for her time. I could see her official persona kick in.

“I am sorry that you feel this way. I hope some day you will change your mind about Chase Bank.”
“That’s up to you. Changing my mind is in your power. If Chase Bank stops funding Mountaintop Removal Mining my opinion of Chase Bank will change. It’s up to you.”

We shook hands and smiled. And I left.

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