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.
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.
The treasurer will need to make their wishes become reality and there is no word on when that may happen.
On social media, dozens of people posted their anger of the new policy. They threatened to close their accounts in retaliation.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”