Posts Tagged ‘corporate responsibility’

Peabody Coal, presently the largest Coal Mining Company in the World

Peabody Coal, presently the largest Coal Mining Company in the World

Take a quick look at this article/video. After the showing of a comedic political documentary, a speech is made about mountain-top removal mining and its ill effects. The crowd of enthusiastic movie-goers then canvasses the sidewalks of a nearby JP Morgan Chase bank with coal graffiti. It brings up an interesting point about who’s surreptitiously lurking behind the companies that deal with coal. In a word, banks.

Let’s reflect for a bit on the role of banks in (or rather behind) coal-related issues. For starters, it’s a tricky situation because the banks don’t actually do any of the polluting or emitting, they merely finance it:

One could take one of two extreme standpoints on the environmental impact of banks’ products. On the one hand, all pollution caused by companies who are financed by banks is the responsibility of banks. It is easy to make an estimate of the environmental impact in this sense: it would equate to almost the aggregate pollution of the whole economy in many countries. On the other hand, as the products of banks do not pollute, the users of those products—the clients—should take sole responsibility for the pollution they create. Of course, both standpoints are absurd. The truth lies somewhere in the middle

(taken from a paper on sustainable banking).

As usual, it’s that middle ground which is very hard to find in the real world.

The Rainforest Action Network has put together a very informative pamphlet concerning banks (particularly Citi and Bank of America) and their relationship to coal in the US. Here are just a few numbers taken from this publication:

  1. There are about 150 proposed coal-fired power plant sites in the US currently, with an estimated price-tag of approximately 140 billion dollars for the lot. This might be considered another ‘coal rush,’ and someone will have to finance all of this. You might think of this as adding 100-180 million passenger cars to US roads.
  2. Citi and Bank of America have both been major financiers of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal mining company. Peabody has been involved in mining coal on the Black Mesa (Hopi Indian community land), where they have drained millions of gallons of water from the sole aquifer in the area and left behind a 273-mile coal slurry pipeline.
  3. Both banks have also underwritten numerous loans for other coal mining companies including Massey Energy, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources. Each of these companies is involved in mountaintop removal, a particularly destructive form of coal mining.

Citi Bank

The World Bank is not setting a very good example, either. The Bank has acknowledged that the developing world should not become locked into the same carbon-intensive infrastructure of the West, yet it still intends to help fund coal-fired power plants in several developing nations. It’s a hard line to walk, that between developmental and environmental issues, however there are more sustainable alternatives available and with the right planning and finance, these could become a reality.

Bank of America

Bank of America

But let’s step away from the blame game. No matter who is the most responsible – the bank or the polluter – the fact is that banks, with their abundant resources, should be clever and forward-thinking enough to see the non-sustainability of coal as an investment. Conversely, there abound investment opportunities in clean, sustainable energy. For example, Lord Browne, former head of BP, has urged the British government to direct government-controlled bank investment into renewable energy resources, such as offshore wind power. Germany has been a leader in sustainable energy investment; look at this report from the Deutsche Bank. In the US there have been proposals for a Green Bank which would, among many other things, help to drive much-needed capital investment into clean-energy technologies and infrastructure.

This isn’t just green tomfoolery, it could be money in the bank (literally).

J Baker.

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At 10 a.m. EDT today, a grave test for our democracy began. Whether you’re taking to the streets or hanging our printed poster in your window, help us show the media, the Supreme Court and Congress that citizens across the U.S. won’t stand for more corporate influence in politics. Send your photos, videos, blog posts and stories to [email protected].

rollforwebYour pledges to protest have been inspiring, and we are anticipating a lot of rabble-rousing today. But our work is only just beginning. Some time before the end of the year, we expect the Supreme Court to make its decision. We hope that the justices will rule on the side of the public interest.

But if the justices decide to open the floodgates to corporate money in politics, we ask you to please be prepared for bigger and bolder action.

Beginning today, we are asking you to help us collect pledges to protest any decision that increases corporate influence in our elections. If you’re taking to the streets, please download and print our printable Pledge to Protest. If you aren’t in the streets, you can still protest by warning your network of friends, family and colleagues and asking them to pledge to protest any decision by the court that gives corporations more advantage over citizens.

Please send us photos, video and stories to [email protected] so we can share your outrage.

Stay tuned to hear about the protests happening across the country today and the impact you had.

Thank you for all you do!

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In July, Netroots Nation, a network of online progressive voices, hosted a panel including scholarly authors, film directors, and lawyers with the topic:

“How Corporations and the Politicians they Fund are Fighting to Take Away our Legal Rights … and Convincing Us it’s for the Best.”

The speakers highlighted how corporations and conservative think tanks have framed personal injury law suits. Many people in America believe we are a nation of frivolous lawsuits – both in quantity and quality. Yet in reality, the number of lawsuits has been declining over the last 50 years. And if you would like to debate the quality of these suits, you better take it up with the system we have in place. Our elected system gives power to judges and juries who decides who gets what. So why all the complaining?

Propaganda produced by “you know who” has produced the image of lawyers as money-hungry sharks and injured people as whiners who are living irresponsibly. The campaign against lawsuits has been largely successful, yet now our tendency to buy into this propaganda may cost us our rights.

The Bush Administration wants to leave it up to the US Food and Drug Administration to approve our drugs and medical devices and forfeit give up our right to seek compensation through the courts if we are hurt. While some may argue that the FDA has rigorous tests that its products must pass before being put on the market, many companies slide through (some knowing the harm their product may cause, and others not).

If we take away the company’s fear of “getting sued,” what will be their motive to ensure that their product is completely safe? Not to say that everyone in these companies are evil, profit-seeking jerks; there are good people working there too who have a code of ethics and who believe safety comes first. These are the good people who use the possibility of a law suit as the hovering consequence of failing to take safety more seriously. Why would we, as consumers, want to take this argument away from them?

We ought to think about the rights we are relinquishing by doing away with our access to the courts, as well as our safety, which we are leaving up to drug companies and the imperfect FDA to decide.

Dennis Quaid testifies before Congress earlier this year

Dennis Quaid testifies before Congress earlier this year

Take a look at Dennis Quaid, who says he has always thought of himself as a Republican. Even he is combating the process of preemption by giving testimony in Washington DC after a near-fatal overdose of heparin because of faulty labeling and medical devices that involved his newly-born twins. If Dennis Quaid is this concerned about what is going on with our legal system, we definitely should be!

Even worse is that these same problems continue to plague Texas hospitals, with a near fatal oversdose of heparin being given to 12 premies in a single Corpus Christi hospital last month.

~~Intern Anna

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