Coal Financing Under Scrutiny

By Molly Moore

Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo ranked as the five worst banks for coal financing in an annual report issued by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack and Sierra Club. Banks were rated according to their investment in mountaintop removal coal mining and coal-fired power plants.

The report comes as the coal industry’s financiers face greater scrutiny regarding their investments in coal. Demonstrations against PNC Bank and Bank of America were held this May in Pittsburgh and Charlotte, and UBS Bank, which was not mentioned in the report, was the subject of demonstrations in multiple cities.

At the Bank of America shareholders meeting, Larry Gibson of the Keepers of the Mountains Foundation, whose home on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia is surrounded by mountaintop removal mining, asked the bank to stop funding the destruction near his home. According to the Rainforest Action Network report, Bank of America underwrote $4.3 billion in coal-related investments over a two-year period.

“Ultimately, the coal industry is a business,” says Walter Hjelt Sullivan, program director for Earth Quaker Action Team, which is currently targeting PNC Bank. “Coal companies could not operate without banks. Not everyone lives in the coal fields, but we all use banks and that gives us power to act.”

Credit Suisse was the only big bank to earn high marks in the report for its policy of not investing in mountaintop removal coal mining.


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