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LOCAL News :: Environment : Protest Activity

No Coal for Christmas: Tell Bank of America, “Divest from Coal. Invest in Clean Energy.?

Activists with Blue Ridge Earth First! (BREF)and VCU SDS (VCU Students for a Democratic Society) gathered at noon Tuesday inside the Bank of America branch on the downtown mall in Charlottesville to tell bank management “Divest from Coal. Invest in Clean Energy.? As carolers sang coal-themed versions of Christmas classics such as I’m Having Nightmares of a Coal Christmas to the tune of I’m Dreaming of A White Christmas, Santa delivered a sack of coal to the bank, checking off the naughtiest corporation on his list.

Santa later disclosed “It’s Bank of America’s bad habit of funding climate change and destructive coal mining that earned them their lump of coal today.?

BREF! encouraged citizens to close their accounts in protest until Bank of America stops investing billions of dollars in companies such as Massey Energy, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources which practice mountaintop removal. This form of coal mining demolishes mountains for their coal and then dumps the refuse in stream beds, polluting the water. Additionally, coal-fired electric plants, despite claims of “clean? coal, emit green house gasses which contribute to climate change. Meanwhile the bank has made headlines for pledges to support environmentally sustainable business and address global climate change.

After being asked to leave by bank management the carolers reassembled in front of the main entrance to continue caroling while other Earth First! volunteers distributed fliers to passersby. After about thirty minutes, ‘Global Warming Crime Scene’ tape was wrapped around the entrance and the protesters dispersed.

BREF!’s Charlottesville street theater came on the heel of international climate talks in Bali. Meanwhile the U.S. Senate has stripped H.R. 6 of clean energy investments funded by elimination of tax breaks for fossil fuels, after a threatened Republican filibuster. And here in Virginia, criticism mounts regarding Dominion’s proposed coal-fired plant, to receive a hearing before the State Corporation Commission January 8. BREF! distributed information, asking the public to attend this hearing and to support resolutions to the Virginia General Assembly opposing the plant. One such local government resolution is currently before Charlottesville’s City Council, with Blacksburg having already passed its own resolution December 11 and others pending in Alexandria and Arlington County.

Earth First!’s holiday festivities are part of a campaign organized nationally by Rainforest Action Network, Mountain Justice and a coalition of grassroots organizations. Tuesday’s caroling follows a similar event on Saturday at Bank of America’s Barracks Rd. Branch, a November 30 UVA student die-in at the bank’s University Avenue location and an August 31 banner drop at Virginia Tech in conjunction with BREF! demonstrations in Blacksburg and Harrisonburg.

*Article courtesy of Blue Ridge Earth First

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