Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Which U.S. Banks Are Risking Your Health by Financing Coal?

Climate

Rainforest Action Network

Today the Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club released the Coal Finance Report Card 2012, their third annual ranking of the largest financiers of mountaintop removal coal mining and coal-fired power plants.

The report looks at the stated policies for mountaintop removal and coal financing from each of the largest U.S. banks and assigns a letter grade to show how well they uphold these policies based on investments, transactions and ownership of coal mining and coal burning utility companies.

Summary of bank coal policy grades:

BankMountaintop Removal GradeCoal Fired Power Plant Grade
Bank of AmericaC-D
CitiC-D
GE CapitalDD
Goldman SachsFD (Cogentrix) / F (Other)
JP Morgan ChaseD+D
Morgan StanleyC-D
PNCC-F
Wells FargoDD

In addition, this year’s report debuts the “Filthy Five”—the top five largest financiers of the U.S. coal industry. The list counts the number of transactions each company had with the dirtiest coal-burning utility companies and the largest mountaintop removal mining companies between January 2010 and March 2012. Bank of America was found to be the number one worst bank for financing of coal with 44 transactions. JP Morgan Chase was number two with 42 transactions, followed by Citi with 40 transactions, Morgan Stanley with 33 transactions and Wells Fargo with 26 transactions.

“The largest banks in the country, including Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo, received failing grades today as the lead financiers of the coal industry. These banks are the ATMs for a dirty industry that is bad for health and bad for business,” said Amanda Starbuck, director of Rainforest Action Network's Energy and Finance Program. “Coal is the ultimate subprime investment for the climate. We cannot solve climate change if banks continue to prop up this risky and outdated industry. When it comes to protecting our air and drinking water, the health of our communities, and our climate, we don’t grade on a curve.”

The report sheds light on how banks with household names are complicit in polluting our air and destroying our natural resources. Mountaintop removal mining is a destructive process where mining companies blow the tops off mountains to reach a thin seam of coal. This practice has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of mountaintops and forests by 2020. In addition, the mining practice destroys Appalachian communities, the health of coalfield residents and any hope for positive economic growth.

Meanwhile, not only is coal burning responsible for one third of U.S. carbon emissions—the main contributor to climate disruption—but it is also making us sick. Coal pollution is responsible for 13,000 premature deaths every year, more than $100 billion in annual health costs and over 200,000 asthma attacks annually. Pollution from coal-fired power plants leads to smog, which can cause chest pain, coughing and breathing difficulties and can make conditions like bronchitis, emphysema and asthma worse, or even fatal. Today, two out of every five U.S. families live in places with unsafe air.

“These banks are financing a coal industry that is threatening our health, our mountains and the future of our planet,” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. “Protecting the health and safety of our families is everyone’s responsibility—including those that fund destructive and dangerous coal mining and burning. We hope this report card helps draw attention and scrutiny to those who are bankrolling some of the biggest polluters in our country.”

Through this report, Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club point to where banks are failing as energy and climate leaders. However, both organizations maintain a strong commitment to work with the companies so they may adopt and implement meaningful policies on coal.

The full report is available by clicking here.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Activists of Greenpeace and Fridays For Future demonstrate on a canal in front of the cooling tower of the coal-fired power plant Datteln 4 of power supplier Uniper in Datteln, western Germany, on May 20. INA FASSBENDER / AFP / Getty Images

The Bundestag and Bundesrat — Germany's lower and upper houses of parliament — passed legislation on Friday that would phase out coal use in the country in less than two decades as part of a road map to reduce carbon emissions.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Tara Lohan

Would you like to take a crack at solving climate change? Or at least creating a road map of how we could do it?

Read More Show Less
Climate campaigners and Indigenous peoples across Canada have spent the past several years protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline. Mark Klotz / Flickr / cc

By Elana Sulakshana

Rainforest Action Network recently uncovered a document that lists the 11 companies that are currently insuring the controversial Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline in Canada. These global insurance giants are providing more than USD$500 million in coverage for the massive risks of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, and they're also lined up to cover the expansion project.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Leah Campbell

After several months of stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many households are beginning to experience family burnout from spending so much time together.

Read More Show Less
Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less