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US banks risk public health and climate by financing coal

RAN and sierra club detail the “filthy five” banks in third annual “coal Finance report rard”
Main
Banks
By Rainforest Action Network | San Francisco, USA, May 1 2012

Today Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack 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 US Banks and assigns a letter grade to 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

Bank

Mountaintop Removal Grade

Coal Fired Power Plant Grade

Bank of America

C-

D

Citi

C-

D

GE Capital

D

D

Goldman Sachs

F

D (Cogentrix) / F (Other)

JP Morgan Chase

D+

D

Morgan Stanley

C-

D

PNC

C-

F

Wells Fargo

D

D




In addition, this year’s report debuts the “Filthy Five” - the top 5 largest financiers of the US 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 2 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 We cannot solve climate change if banks continue to prop up this risky and outdated industry.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 US 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 2 out of every 5 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, RAN 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.

Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org

The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the country, with over 1.4 million members and supporters. For more information about the Beyond Coal campaign, visit www.beyondcoal.org .

contact

Kerul Dyer, RAN, 415.866.0005

Eitan Bencuya, Sierra Club, 202.495.3047

Rainforest Action Network Website

Bank of America
Bank of America is an American multinational banking and financial services corporation and is the second largest bank holding company in the United States by assets, and…
Citi
Citigroup Inc., doing business as Citi, is a major American financial services company based in New York, NY. Citigroup was formed from a merger between Citicorp and financial…
Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) was founded in 1869 and is a leading global financial services firm that is headquartered in New York. It provides an array of financing…
JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase is one of the Big Four Banks of the United States (along with Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo). The firm was formed in…
Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley was one of the four investment banks that for decades ruled on Wall Street (with Lehman Brothers, Merril Lynch and JPMorgan Chase). The corporation, founded…
PNC
PNC Bank NA. is the principal subsidiary of the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. PNC operations include a regional banking franchise…
Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is one of the big banks in the United States, located in San Fransisco. In october 2008, Wells Fargo acquired the troubled bank Wachovia, at that moment the sixth…
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