Activists Blockade Bank of America in Downtown Asheville

***For immediate release***

August 13, 2007

***Activists Blockade Bank of America in Downtown Asheville***

As a culmination of the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action, activists took a bold direct action against Bank of America over concerns regarding their investment throughout the coal cycle and their promotion of climate injustice. Although there was much speculation regarding a protest action at the Progress Energy Skyland coal-fired power plant, protestors surprised the downtown office of Bank of America.

Two activists locked down inside the main lobby and other activists blockaded the entrance to the downtown branch of Bank of America. The protest included a large, lively group of concerned citizens dressed as canaries and polar bears. Activists carried signs and banners that read: “Bank of America Stop Funding Climate Change,” “Bank of America Stop Mountaintop Removal,” “No Coal, No Nukes, No Kidding” “Bank of America Climate Criminal.”

Bank of America has lent hundreds of millions of dollars to companies that run and are planning to build new power plants, such as Florida Power and Light. Between 2005 and 2007, Bank of America facilitated nearly $1 billion in loans to Massey Energy and Arch Coal, two of the largest companies responsible for the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. This form of mining literally blasts the tops off of mountains to get at thin seems of coal that lay beneath. Mountaintop removal coal mining has permanently destroyed over 500 square miles of mountains and buried over 1,200 miles of streams in West Virginia alone.

As of 2005, Progress Energy was the fifth largest purchaser of Massey Energy’s coal. Progress Energy’s Skyland plant purchases and burns mountaintop removal coal. Additionally, the Skyland plant is the largest point source of pollution in Buncombe County.

The Southeast Convergence for Climate Action promotes a just, rapid, nuclear-free transition away from fossil fuels; promotes environmental justice by supporting communities that are fighting dirty energy developments in their backyards; and encourages direct actions as a means for challenging corporate power and empowering movements to stop climate change.

“I attended the convergence to build my skills for organizing and taking action on climate change,” said Joey Littleton, a convergence participant. “This is a great place to network-there are activists from all over the southeast region with a wide breadth of experience on environment and social justice issues. I enjoyed the strategy sessions; I came here to get involved with the movement to stop climate change.”

The Southeast Convergence for Climate Action is happening simultaneously with a Climate Convergence on the west coast focused on fighting liquefied natural gas terminals, and in conjunction with the UK Camp for Climate Action taking place at London’s Heathrow airport.

“Globally and locally, change will come from communities, not from benign politicians and corporations who hope to profit off the climate crisis with feel-good ‘solutions’ that do nothing to challenge a fundamentally unjust and unsustainable system,” said Mary Olson, director of the Southeast office of Nuclear Information and Resource Service and co-organizer of the convergence.

Additionally, the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action made the following statement:

List of Demands

Recognizing that climate change is already here, we hold corporations and governments accountable for the effects on communities, people and the living earth. Therefore, we demand:

1.That Bank of America completely divest from the coal industry and other dirty, climate-changing energy companies.
2.A 90% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
3.An immediate halt to any plans for new nuclear and coal power plants and a complete redirection of research and development money toward conservation, efficiency and clean, renewable energy projects.
4.An immediate end to mountaintop removal coal mining and other forms of strip mining.
5.A just, rapid transition away from fossil fuels and nuclear power by 2020.
6.A shift to community controlled, small-scale systems of energy production, transportation, and food production and distribution.
7.An end to the privatization of the atmosphere through market-based mechanisms such as carbon trading.
8.Climate Justice Now!

From: The Southeast Convergence for Climate Action

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