The Front Porch Blog, with Updates from AppalachiaThe Front Porch Blog, with Updates from Appalachia

Rebranding Bank of America’s Responsibility

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments

Join us in Charlotte on May 9 to remind Bank of America, the largest financier of the U.S. coal industry, of their responsibility to citizens and the environment. Visit our action page for more info and to sign up.

BREAKING: Daring Action at Bank of America Stadium,” read the first email in my inbox this morning. Immediately, I thought what a crazed football fan might be capable of — in the offseason no less — if they were to break into the complex.

Turns out my imagination had taken the wrong course. The “daring action” at Bank of America Stadium targeted the bank itself. This morning, five activists from the Rainforest Action Network scaled the stadium walls before unfurling a banner suggesting a more appropriate name for the corporation. The “Bank of Coal” banner is a reminder to shareholders, board members and thousands on their daily commute, that the Charlotte-based bank cannot hide its long-standing relationship with coal industry under fluffy pronouncements of corporate responsibility.


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Renewed Call to Revoke Massey Energy’s Corporate Charter

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 | Posted by | No Comments



Dec. 7, 2011

Yesterday, Alpha Natural Resources, the parent company of the Massey Energy coal company, agreed to pay $209 million in criminal penalties, civil penalties, and compensation to the families of the 29 miners who were killed when its Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded on April 5, 2010. The company was also fined an additional $10.8 million yesterday by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration — the largest fine in that agency’s history.

With this admission by the company of criminal liability in those miners’ deaths, we renew our call today on Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden to revoke the corporate charter of Massey Energy.  

Corporations like Massey are artificial entities, granted a right to exist by we the people through our state corporate charter laws. Just as surely as we grant that right, we can also revoke it.  

When a corporation is criminally responsible for killing people — as Massey’s parent company has now agreed that it is — it should lose its right to exist.  

“Massey Energy has shown little regard for the people of Appalachia,” says Appalachian Voices Executive Director Willa Mays. “When people commit grave crimes, we imprison them and take away their rights as citizens. Massey can’t simply pay its way out of culpability in the criminal deaths of 29 miners. We need to stop Massey from doing more dirty business.”

Massey Energy was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources in June 2011. But it cannot merge its way out of responsibility for its actions. Massey still maintains its own charter in Delaware and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alpha.

A financial settlement, even for hundreds of millions of dollars, is just not enough to prevent corporations like Massey from abusing their enormous power over our lives. Alpha earned $2.3 billion in the last quarter alone.[1]

It is simply not acceptable for corporations to buy their way out after criminally killing people, any more than it is acceptable for them to buy control over our government.

We urge Attorney General Biden to initiate charter revocation proceedings against Massey Energy.

Join us in asking Attorney General Biden to revoke Massey Energy’s corporate charter today.

The groups’ letter issued on June 8, 2011 to Attorney General Biden can be accessed here:

Related Media:

Reuters: Jail coal execs, says U.S. Rep

Speaking Truth to Power: Appalachian Women Travel to Delaware To Hold Massey Energy Accountable

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 | Posted by Sandra Diaz | No Comments

This summer, Appalachian Voices joined Free Speech for People and Rainforest Action Network to petition Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden to repeal Massey Energy’s corporate charter due to their gross disregard for Appalachian communities. Massey Energy, like many corporations, is legally chartered in Delaware. And though Alpha Resources bought Massey Energy earlier this year, Massey still exists as wholly-owned subsidiary.

Massey Energy has violated the Clean Water Water Act over 60,000 times, has been the biggest perpetrator of mountaintop removal coal mining and is directly responsible for the preventable deaths of 29 miners in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in April of 2010, according an independent report commissioned by then- West Virginia Governor (now Senator) Joe Manchin.

Willa Mays, Appalachian Voices Executive Director and Lorelei Scarbro prepare to meet with Delaware Attorney General's office

Over 35,000 Americans have joined our call to action to hold Massey Energy accountable for the lives, mountains and waterways they have ruined. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., also joined the campaign and on a tele-conference implored Attorney General Biden,

“…to be one of the few public officials … who is willing to stand up in this country, to corporate power, to say at some point, corporations do not have the power to dismantle our democracy and violate our laws, willfully and systematically.”

Full audio of tele-conference here:

On Friday, we took the campaign to Delaware. We met with the Attorney General’s office to deliver the petitions and to meet two strong Appalachian women who have been directly impacted by Massey’s various wrongdoings.  Betty Harrah is the sister of Steve “Smiley” Harrah, one of the 29 miners that died during the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.  Lorelei Scarbro has been an advocate of the Coal River Wind project, a campaign to halt Massey Energy from blasting away the top of Coal River Mountain, the last intact mountain in the Coal River Valley. She is the granddaughter, daughter, and widow of coal miners, and has family who currently work at the Upper Big Branch mine.

We then hosted a screening of The Last Mountain, the film that shows the massive destruction that Massey Energy has imposed upon the people of the Coal River Valley and beyond. After the film, we held a forum with Betty Harrah, Lorelei Scarbro, Clara Bingham, producer of The Last Mountain and representatives from Appalachian Voices and Free Speech for People.

Special thanks to Delaware Pacem in Terris, a peace group based in Wilmington and Sarah Culver, founding member of Rising Tide Delaware for help in getting the word about the campaign and the screening. Below is Sarah’s reaction to the evening.

Written by Sarah Culver:
The auditorium in the Delaware Art Museum was standing-room-only, and an audience ranging from high school freshmen to WWII veterans witnessed the utter horror and senseless devastation perpetrated by Massey Energy. The film was as powerful as it was grave, and I could tell from the continued silence after the film had ended and the lights were brought up that each person in that auditorium was still trying to process what they had just seen.

After the screening, an intense public forum was held to discuss the campaign to revoke Massey’s corporate charter.

Since Massey Energy’s corporate charter is issued right here in Delaware, and it is within our Attorney General Beau Biden’s right to revoke that charter as a consequence of their unimaginable number of safety and environmental violations, their reckless abandon of air and water safety standards, and, of course, Massey’s blatant, and unyielding disregard for the culture and communities of Appalachia.

To revoke Massey’s privilege to operate as a company would be a massive step towards the fight to save Coal River Mountain, to educate more people about mountaintop removal, to empower and defend union miners, towards a sustainable economy in Appalachia. Finally, it would bring a sense of closure and justice to the heartbroken people like Betty Harrah and the scores of others who are still struggling to get on, day to day, knowing that it wasn’t an ‘act of God’ but the utter negligence  of Massey Energy that took the lives of their husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers at Upper Big Branch on that senseless day in April 2010.

To hold Massey accountable would be nothing short of the beginning of an ethical and environmental revolution in this country, and the hills and hollows of Appalachia might be able to begin that long, slow road of recovery.

The good news is that you can help. Yes, you. Sign the petition to Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden today and ask him to investigate and revoke Massey Energy’s charter. As Lorelei asked so bluntly during the forum – “If not now, when?”

If the wonderful Appalachians who joined us on Friday night take nothing else back with them from their long trip to Delaware, I hope that it’s this: They have advocates here.

This message is for Betty and Lorelei: We know what’s happening, and we’re fighting for you. We marched with you on Blair Mountain in June, and we’re marching in solidarity with you still. Your sacrifices have not been in vain, and we have been so deeply honored and humbled by your trip over to see us.

Please sign the petition today.

Related Media:

Massey Energy Gets to Continue Business-As-Usual While Tim DeChristopher Gets Two Years in Prison

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 | Posted by Sandra Diaz | 4 Comments

Please join Appalachian Voices, Free Speech for People and Rainforest Action Network in asking that Massey Energy’s corporate charter be revoked

True community exists when neighbors respect each other. Good neighbors are mindful of the impacts that their actions have on the whole. When a powerful neighbor, like a corporation, does not respect their neighbors, communities can become literally endangered.

The corporation is Massey Energy, and this time around, the community is Rawl, West Virginia.

Over 700 people from Rawl and surrounding communities are suing Massey Energy in a class-action lawsuit claiming that Massey Energy is responsible for poisoning hundreds of southern wells with coal slurry. Water pollution is one of the most severe and life-threatening impacts of coal mining and processing. The trial is set to begin August 1.

UPDATE: According to an AP report, Massey Energy has settled the coal slurry lawsuit. The deal was struck earlier after a three day long mediation. The terms are confidential and all parties remain under a gag order.

Jennifer Massey-Hall, who is featured in the movie The Last Mountain, walks us through her neighborhood in Prenter, about 50 miles away from Rawl as the crow flies. Six people have brain tumors, with most of them now deceased. The national average for brain tumors is 6.5 per 100,000 men and women per year.

Here is the first of a 3-part video series by WCHS- TV, the local station about the illnesses. You can watch the other two here:


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