JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America Called Out for Financing Mountaintop Removal

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Mountaintop removal is one of those instinctively gut-wrenching things--it's never pretty to see natural habitats blown open to make room for coal mining. And yet, many of the biggest banks in the U.S. continue to fund the practice, according to a report from the Rainforest Action Network.

Nine banks--Bank of America, Citi, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Wells Fargo, GE Capital Corp, JPMorgan Chase, PNC, and UBS--have funded $3.9 billion in loans and bond underwriting for companies involved in mountaintop removal. The latter four banks are given F grades by RAN due to continued activity in mountaintop removal without clear investment policies. Citi fares slightly better with a grade of C-, as RAN explains:

Citi’s policy lacks an identified performance threshold. Since 2010, Citi has reported on the number of MtR company transactions that have been through their "enhanced due diligence process" and the number of transactions that were approved and closed. This tells us that there is some substance to the policy and that there is at least one MtR company Citi is not prepared to do business with.

So Citi has some integrity, which is heartening. But Credit Suisse is the only bank to score an A- (no A+ grades here) thanks to a policy that says they "explicitly do not finance the extraction of coal in a mountain top removal setting." All other banks in RAN's report have some sort of financial relationship with the top producers of MtR coal in Appalachia.

But is it worth it? Mountaintop removal can be cost-effective for extracting coal, but the tactic generates just 7% of the country's supply. It's a big trade-off--and one that is being subjected to ever-increasing scrutiny by scorecards like this.

Fast Company
Ariel Schwartz
Friday, May 14, 2010

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