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It is hard to think of breathing as a luxury—but for my granddaughter that is her constant reality. Our family lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is one of the smoggiest cities in the country, largely because it’s surrounded by a ring of five coal-fired plants. In the five generations that my family has lived here, never has there been an issue more serious than the air we breathe.

Terms like “bad air days,” “extreme weather,” or “climate change” may feel vague or far away to some. But behind these words are people that are like my granddaughter and me. I came across a study [2010 Clean Air Task Force link here] from 2010 by the Clean Air Task force that attributed 325 deaths, 502 heart attacks and 5,490 asthma attacks to the coal plants within fifty miles of my home. Some days, the air quality in Charlotte is the worst in the nation.

I’m proud to join other mothers and grandmothers in stepping forward to make positive changes for our children, especially by improving air quality by ending our dependence on dirty coal and moving toward cleaner energy solutions.

The country’s banks play a major role in transitioning to a cleaner energy future. Right now, these banks are the ATMs of the coal industry [], and to protect our air, our communities and our climate we must inspire them to stop underwriting the coal industry and start funding a clean future.

In particular, Bank of America, which is based in my hometown of Charlotte, is the number one funder of the U.S. coal industry. In the past two years alone, the bank gave $6.4 billion to coal companies. I do not want to believe that Bank of America would knowingly, willingly, risk the health of this community or the safety of our future.

This company could easily shift its financing away from the coal that pollutes our air. Energy should not cost lives.

Today we have an opportunity. This is our time to urge Bank of America to use its power to promote a clean energy future [].

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