Extreme Investments, Extreme Consequences: coal finance report card
Rainforest Action Network, Bank Track, Sierra Club 2014.
This report assesses the impacts of the banking industry’s investments in the coal industry on human health, the environment, as well as the financial risk exposure for banks. These extreme investments have yielded extreme consequences ranging from spills of coal ash that contaminated public water supplies to bankruptcies that left banks on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 2013, investment banks poured $31.7 billion in financing into the worst-of-the-worst U.S. coal mining and coal-fired power companies. In spite of reports from top global investment banks that found the financial case for investment in coal to be crumbling, U.S. banks led 50 loan and bond transactions with coal companies that practice mountaintop removal (MTR) mining and electric power producers that operate large coal-fired power plant fleets. These banks also financed companies involved with new coal export terminals and coal transportation.
The report’s grades and league tables highlight how some banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, took steps to reduce their exposure to the coal industry by phasing out financing relationships with the largest producers of mountaintop removal coal, becoming the first U.S. banks since the first Report Card was published in 2010 to earn a “B” grade. However, other banks, including Barclays (#1 in financing of mountaintop removal coal companies in 2013 with $550 million) and Citigroup (#1 in financing of coal-fired power companies in 2013 with $6.5 billion) deepened or maintained strong ties to the coal industry last year.