Energy & Environment

Green group calls for Energy secretary resignation after he accuses banks of ‘redlining’ oil and gas industry

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The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is calling for the resignation of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette after he compared banks refusal to finance certain oil and gas projects to redlining.

“Trump Energy Secretary Brouillette should step down immediately for his offensive comments that completely dismiss the experience black communities had and have with discriminatory lending practices,”  LCV President Gene Karpinski said in a statement. 

“The racist practice of redlining contributed to inequities, including environmental racism, that continue to plague the health and well-being of communities of color today,” he added. “Our Department of Energy should be focused on ensuring all people can live in clean, safe, and healthy communities right now, not using ignorant language to bail out Big Oil.”

Brouillette, in an interview with Axios, stated that he didn’t want banks to “be redlining” oil and gas in response some of them refusing to fund fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic. 

“For years and years and years, banks would not lend money, insurance companies would not write policies in minority areas in the country,” he said. “Redlining is the term used all throughout those debates. We didn’t want banks redlining certain parts of the country. We don’t want that here. I do not think banks should be redlining our oil and gas investment across the country.”

Redlining refers to discriminatory tactics used to prevent minorities from buying homes. In the past, banks systematically declined to extend loans to applicants who were looking to buy homes if those applicants were from areas with large minority populations.

That now-illegal practice was named in reference to red lines drawn on maps to demarcate certain neighborhoods.

Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes defended Brouillette’s remark, telling The Hill in a statement that the administration official “was not in any way equating the plight of minority communities to that of energy companies.”

She said that Brouillette instead made “the powerful point that historically there had been discrimination practiced by some in the financial services industry, a custom he and many others worked hard to eliminate and continue to oppose.”

In recent months, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Morgan Stanley have said they will not directly finance new fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Republicans have previously condemned this as “discriminating” against energy companies. Brouilette himself also said last month that he would work with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to make sure banks and lenders don’t make “discriminatory decisions” against oil and gas companies when issuing coronavirus relief loans. 

Tags Arctic drilling Dan Brouillette League of Conservation Voters oil and gas drilling Redlining Steven Mnuchin
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