Quantcast

Report Finds Top Banks Moving Away From Investment in Coal

Energy

Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Sierra Club and BankTrack released the fifth annual coal finance report card, Extreme Investments, Extreme Consequences, last week that tracks the financiers of the worst-of-worst coal companies. The report shows that even as high-profile bankruptcies and costly environmental cleanup settlements illustrate the growing risks involved with lending to coal companies, U.S. banks provided $31 billion in financing for coal in 2013.

Mountaintop removal coal mining. Photo credit: Vivian Stockman / Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

The report ranks Citigroup as the top financier of the U.S. coal-fired power plant fleet with $6.5 billion in loans and underwriting, and Barclays as the lead financier of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. Meanwhile, a positive trend is also developing as Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase both committed to end their financial relationships with major MTR coal mining companies; both achieved the highest grade in the report card’s five-year history. Goldman Sachs also received recognition for stepping away from the contentious Gateway Pacific Coal Export Terminal proposal in the ecologically sensitive Puget Sound. Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and PNC Financial all received lower grades than in 2013 for their continued financing of MTR.

“The gap is widening between banks who have cut ties with extreme coal companies and those still holding on to those risky relationships," said Ben Collins, campaigner for Rainforest Action Network’s Energy and Finance Program. "Leading banks are beginning to plan for a carbon-constrained future by moving away from companies that contaminate public water supplies, threaten our climate, and increasingly put shareholders at risk. At this point any company still banking on coal has its head in the sand.”

This year, the report emphasizes the coal industry’s impact on water contamination, including a case study investigating the ten lawsuits filed against Alpha Natural Resources for selenium pollution from MTR mines. Case studies in this year’s report also expose coal industry bankruptcies and risky coal power plant transactions, including bankruptcies at MTR coal producers Patriot Coal and James River Coal, and sales of coal plants involving Dynegy in Illinois and Dominion Energy in Massachusetts.

“Mountaintop removal coal mining is destructive not only to the environment but to the economy and health of Appalachians as well,” said Mark Kresowik, a policy analyst for the Beyond Coal campaign at the Sierra Club. “Over the last year financially prohibitive fines and settlements like those against Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources show that MTR is an awful investment for the American banking industry.”

The report urges banks to plan for a carbon-constrained future. Specific recommendations include phasing out lending to producers of mountaintop removal coal and coal-fired power, withholding financing for new coal export terminals and ensuring that coal financing deals commit banks and companies to emissions reductions.

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

AnnaPustynnikova / iStock / Getty Images

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD

Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular mushrooms worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Protesters hold a banner and a placard while blocking off the road during a protest against Air pollution in London. Ryan Ashcroft / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Dozens of students, parents, teachers and professionals joined a Friday protest organized by Extinction Rebellion that temporarily stalled morning rush-hour traffic in London's southeasten borough of Lewisham to push politicians to more boldly address dangerous air pollution across the city.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment / Getty Images

By Bridget Shirvell

On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn't just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they're also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.

Read More Show Less
Coal ash has contaminated the Vermilion River in Illinois. Eco-Justice Collaborative / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area's many lakes and streams. But some waters aren't as clean as they should be.

That's in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest's iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.

Read More Show Less

picture-alliance / AP Photo / NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

The Group of 20 major economies agreed a deal to reduce marine pollution at a meeting of their environment ministers on Sunday in Karuizawa, Japan.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pope Francis holds his General Weekly Audience in St. Peter's Square on Aug. 29, 2018 in Vatican City, Vatican. Giulio Origlia / Getty Images

Pope Francis declared a climate emergency Friday as he met with oil industry executives and some of their biggest investors to urge them to act on the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A vegetarian bowl with quinoa fritters. Westend61 / Getty Images

By Ketura Persellin

You've likely heard that eating meat and poultry isn't good for your health or the planet. Recent news from Washington may make meat even less palatable: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of the industry.

Read More Show Less
Florida's Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier, where the record-breaking beach cleanup took place Saturday. Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

More than 600 people gathered on a Florida beach Saturday to break the world record for the largest underwater cleanup of ocean litter.

Read More Show Less