Energy

Enviros Upset Banks Won’t Stop Lending To Coal Companies

REUTERS/Jose Luis Saavedra

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

Major U.S. banks are once again lending to coal companies, despite their past declaration to abandon the industry, a study from an environmental group found.

About three years ago, the U.S. government was entering the Paris climate accord, natural gas emerged as a competitive fossil fuel source, and the three biggest U.S. coal companies were undergoing bankruptcy. Amidst the industry’s turmoil, America’s largest banks announced they would scale back their loans to coal companies.

“The bank has a responsibility to help mitigate climate change by leveraging our scale and resources to accelerate the transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon society,” read a Bank of America coal policy statement in May 2015.

Andrew Plepler, Bank of America’s head of corporate social responsibility, went into further detail, adding: “Our new policy reflects our decision to continue to reduce our credit exposure over time to the coal mining sector globally.”

Bank of America’s statements reflected those of other major U.S. banks who planned to shift away from coal. Environmental groups had pressured them for years to stop supporting fossil fuels. With the coal industry faltering anyways, the decision to walk away was made much easier. (RELATED: Cities Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change Forced To Answer About The Benefits Of Fossil Fuels)

However, a lot has changed since that time. Alpha Natural Resources, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal have arisen from their bankruptcy woes. More notably, the arrival of President Donald Trump — and his promises to breathe life back into the coal industry — has given analysts reason to rethink the future of fossil fuels.

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