Mixed Reports on Coal Finance

By Brian Sewell

Rainforest Action Network’s annual coal finance report card found that the biggest banks put up $31.7 billion for coal projects in 2013. Citigroup, the largest funder of coal, invested $6.5 billion. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo updated their policies to begin phasing out financing for mountaintop removal. Stanford University also announced it will no longer invest endowment funds in coal companies.

Oil Train Derails Along James River

On April 30, a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lynchburg, Va., spilling as much as 25,000 gallons of oil along the banks of the James River. Three or four tanker cars toppled into the river and burst into flames, causing an evacuation of downtown businesses. The same day, the U.S. Department of Transportation sent proposed rules to the White House aimed at improving the safety of oil transport by rail.

Bipartisan Energy Legislation Stalls

Amendments related to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and the Obama administration’s efforts to curb carbon pollution fractured the broad, bipartisan support for the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill in the U.S. Senate. The modest bill aimed to make residential and commercial buildings more efficient and improve consumer access to high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Senate Republicans also filibustered bipartisan legislation that would have extended the wind production tax credit, likely tabling the issue until after the November elections.

North Carolina Eager to Begin Fracking

After 18 months of study, the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission submitted proposed rules for regulating natural gas production in the state. The process has been marked with controversy and collusion between industry representatives, lobbyists and state officials. A bill introduced in the first days of the legislative session would make it a felony to disclose chemicals used in fracking approved as “trade secrets” and preempt communities from passing local ordinances to control fracking. Gov. Pat McCrory also hopes to open public lands for test drilling to determine the state’s potential.


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