Energy & Environment

Bank of America pledges no financing for Arctic oil

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Bank of America is saying it won’t finance oil and gas exploration in the Arctic following a pressure campaign from environmentalists. 

The Sierra Club in recent months has put pressure on Bank of America, calling it “the only major US bank not to rule out financing for the destruction” of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) following commitments not to finance drilling there from several of its peers. 

The bank’s public policy and strategy in Washington chief Larry Di Rita told Bloomberg on Monday that it won’t finance Arctic oil and gas exploration. 

“There’s been misunderstanding around our position, but we have not historically participated in project finance for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic,” Di Rita said. “But given that misinterpretation, we’ve determined that it’s time to codify our existing practice into policy.”

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citi have made similar commitments. 

Bank of America’s announcement comes as the Trump administration is continuing to move toward drilling at ANWR, a controversial move because of the animal species abundant there and significance to the Gwich’in people. 

The federal government is required to hold at least two drilling lease sales there by the end of 2024 under a 2017 law. However, the Trump administration may try to hold one of those sales before Joe Biden becomes president in January, as Biden is expected to try to limit drilling there. 

Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative Ben Cushing said in response to Bank of America that “now that every major American bank has stated unequivocally that they will not finance this destructive activity, it should be clearer than ever that any oil company considering participating in Trump’s ill-advised lease sale should stay away.”

The announcement also comes as the Treasury Department is attempting to prevent banks from evading financing for fossil fuel activities.

A new proposed rule could penalize banks that decline to finance specific industries. The rule, which may not be finalized by the time Biden takes office, specifically mentions fossil fuels, but applies broadly to many sectors. 

Tags ANWR Arctic drilling Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Joe Biden

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