By Matt Kroschel

CRAIG, Colo. (CBS4)– Outrage over a bank’s new policies regarding the energy industry is boiling over in coal country. This, as a bank with a local branch in the small NW Colorado town adopts what many call a new anti-coal policy.

Stacy Razzano will walk away from her job next week as the Bank of the West Craig Branch Manager and Vice President after 27 years with the bank.

“In our community, coal is what brings home the paychecks. Coal is what provides for families,” she says.

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(credit: CBS)

She is the daughter of a coal miner and told CBS4 the new policies are not something she agrees with and says are bad for the community.

“It’s been heartbreaking for me,” she admits. “It’s just been really sad to watch this, however I felt that I needed to take this stance for my community and my family.”

Moffat County commissioners made it clear Tuesday they want the county money currently in accounts at the Bank of the West to be put elsewhere.

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CBS4’s Matt Kroschel interviews Stacy Razzano (credit: CBS)

The treasurer will need to make their wishes become reality and there is no word on when that may happen.

bank energy investment 6pkg frame 2434 Customers Calling Out Bank Of The Wests Anti Coal Policy

(credit: CBS)

On social media, dozens of people posted their anger of the new policy. They threatened to close their accounts in retaliation.

83802994 Customers Calling Out Bank Of The Wests Anti Coal Policy

(credit – Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Commissioner Ray Beck, chairperson of the BOCC told CBS4 he and his wife closed their accounts in protest.

“When you have an organization as big as Bank of the West, and for the corporates to come out and say they’re not gonna support in the future any financing that has to do with coal, coal-related projects, coal-powered power plant, oil and gas, that is very concerning for Moffat County,” he says. “We are not going to support an organization that does not support our quality way of life.”

On Tuesday, county leaders signaled support for closing all of the county’s accounts also.

“In my case I’ve banked there for almost 40 years,” says Beck. “We are an energy-based county and community and these kinds of things strike at the soul of us.”

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Ray Beck (credit: CBS)

Bank of the West posted the following statement about the new policy:

“We’re investing where we feel we can make the most impact, like advancing diversity and women entrepreneurship programs, financing for more small businesses, promoting programs for sustainable energy, and withdrawing support from companies and business activities that are detrimental to our environment and our health.

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(credit: CBS)

As a long-term partner of the energy industry, we are proud to work with companies in oil, coal and gas that are actively involved in the energy transition and committed to building a more sustainable energy future.

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(credit: CBS)

To this end, Bank of the West has made the following decisions:

  • We will no longer do business with companies whose main activity is exploring, producing, distributing, marketing or trading oil and gas from shale and/or tar sands. Click here to read the full group policy.
  • We will never finance oil and gas exploration or production projects in the Arctic. Click here to read the full group policy.
  • We will no longer finance coal mines or coal-fired power plants that are not actively involved in the energy transition. Click here to read the full group policy.
  • We will terminate all financing and investing activities relating to tobacco product manufacturers, as well as producers, wholesalers and traders whose revenue comes primarily from tobacco. Click here to read the full group policy.

As the bank for a changing world, we’re continually seeking to improve the ways we help our customers, while contributing to more sustainable and equitable growth.”

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

Comments (5)
  1. My daughter has been employed by that bank for six years. The staff was devastated by Bank of the West’s announcement. Thankfully, the community is rallying around the employees that have no say in this but can only watch, with tears in their eyes, as the customers that they have built long standing relationships with for years take their money and walk out the door. I don’t blame the community, which is strongly supported by coal and coal fired power plants, for pulling their support out away from the bank. Thank you, Moffat County, for being leaders in this, and taking your money elsewhere, also. If Bank of the West doesn’t want to support the common, working man, there are plenty of other banks out there that will.

    1. Robert Chase says:

      Moffat County could hardly wedge its head any more firmly up its *ss.

  2. Maybe Bank of the West should rebrand. Replace the bear with a windmill or a solar panel.

  3. Smart move by the bank to take it’s money out of a dying industry. People who keep their money in Bank of the West will see better returns from better investments. Thank you Bank of the West for being a leader in divesting from investments that are detrimental to our health and environment. Keep the bear as your logo, because of these type of changes, we might actually keep them around.

  4. Greg Smith says:

    I can tell Mr. Chase and Mr. Riggle live on the Front Range and do not have a clue about life outside of their little bubble. They think electricity is something that is their God given right, without understanding just exactly how the electrical grid works. I won’t go into how base-loaded, fossil fuel power plants make up the foundation of our grid, or how solar and wind (at this point in time) reliably supply our electrical needs. The sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow at the precise velocity wind turbines have to have to work. All I can say is that when you finally kill off fossil fueled electrical generation, I hope you enjoy your rolling brownouts and blackouts.

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