Who’s Bankrolling Mountaintop Removal Mining?
Turns out, it’s a number of the country’s largest banks.
In a report out today, several environmental groups rank nine of the biggest players on Wall Street based on their stated policies toward mountaintop removal coal mining, a process in which companies blast away Appalachian peaks to access the coal seams held inside. All told, since the start of 2008, the nine banks have provided nearly $4 billion in loans and bonds to companies involved in mountaintop mining operations.
The worst offenders? PNC, GE Capitol Corp, JP Morgan Chase and UBS, which all got Fs, according to the analysis conducted by the Sierra Club, the Rainforest Action Network and BankTrack.
Well, PNC has bankrolled about half of all MTR mining since the start of 2008, the groups found, charging the company with a “total failure to take environmental risks into account in its lending practices.”
JPMorgan Chase and UBS both have environmental policies, but neither mentions MTR, the report says. And GE Capitol Corp has no environmental policy at all, the environmentalists found.
At the other end of the spectrum, Credit Suisse ranked best with an A-. Bank officials said they “explicitly do not finance the extraction of coal in a mountain top removal setting,” though their public policy doesn’t mention the practice, the report notes.
Other banks have policies that are more nuanced (veiled?). Bank of America, for example, says that it “will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal.” That’s a good first step, environmentalists argue, but not as complete as eliminating financing for companies practicing MTR at all. They gave BoA a C.
The other companies were Wells Fargo (B), Morgan Stanley (C) and Citigroup (C-).
The environmental groups said they’ll be watching for further developments.
“When it comes to protecting America’s mountains and clean drinking water, we don’t grade on a curve,” Amanda Starbuck of the Rainforest Action Network said in a statement unveiling the report. “When banks stop funding mountaintop removal they will move to the head of the class.”