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No major US bank willing to finance arctic drilling

No major US bank willing to finance arctic drilling
Source: Unsplash/Cassie Matias

Bank of America announces it will no longer finance oil and gas drilling projects in the Arctic, the last large US bank to take the step long sought by environmentalists.

Bank of America Promises not to Fund Arctic Drilling

On Monday 28 November, Bank of America said it is ruling out financing for oil and gas development in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This follows similar moves by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Morgan Stanley. Now, all six major US banks have committed to not finance the destruction of one of our last truly wild places. 

Outgoing President Donald Trump has opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to fossil fuel exploration, and is rushing to sell leases for drilling in the refuge before leaving office.
The decision is especially significant at this time. Outgoing President Donald Trump has opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to fossil fuel exploration, and is rushing to sell leases for drilling in the refuge before leaving office. Source: Unsplash/Annie Spratt

Decision is significant as Trump is rushing to sell leases for drilling before leaving office

After ongoing pressure from environmental groups and Indigenous communities, Bank of America has said it will not finance any oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, making it the last major U.S. financial institution to do so, reported EcoWatch on 1 December.

The decision is especially significant because outgoing President Donald Trump has opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to fossil fuel exploration, and is rushing to sell leases for drilling in the refuge before leaving office.

"It has long been clear that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would trample Indigenous rights, threaten vulnerable wildlife, and worsen the climate crisis. 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," Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative Ben Cushing said in a press release responding to the news.

Bank of America first announced its decision to Bloomberg News on Monday and confirmed it to AFP. In the statement, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said it had unofficially refrained from financing Arctic drilling for a long time.

"There’s been misunderstanding around our position, but we have not historically participated in project finance for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic," Bank of America head of public policy and strategy in Washington Larry Di Rita told Bloomberg. "But given that misinterpretation, we’ve determined that it’s time to codify our existing practice into policy." — continued below…

Source: EcoWatch

ANWR's coastal plain is the birthing and nursing ground for the Porcupine Caribou herd, and the Gwich'in Nation of Canada and Alaska considers it the
Environmental and Indigenous groups have long opposed drilling in the ANWR, partly because of its potential impact on Indigenous rights and endangered species such as polar bears and caribou. ANWR’s coastal plain is the birthing and nursing ground for the Porcupine Caribou herd, and the Gwich’in Nation of Canada and Alaska considers it the “Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” Source: Unsplash/Annie Spratt
The Trump administration last month called for oil and gas firms to select where they might want to drill for the first time in the U.S.’s largest pristine tract of wilderness before President-elect Joe Biden assumes the White House in January.
Wtf is wrong with Trump? The Trump administration last month called for oil and gas firms to select where they might want to drill for the first time in the U.S.’s largest pristine tract of wilderness before President-elect Joe Biden assumes the White House in January. Source: Unsplash/Annie Spratt

International financial institutions have also promised not to fund drilling in the refuge

The Sierra Club singled out Bank of America after Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Chase, Wells Fargo and Citi all announced official no-Arctic-drilling policies this year.

Bank of America emphasised its environmental commitments to Bloomberg. It has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and aims to fund green bonds and support global climate solutions.

Its announcement raises further doubt about the likely success of Trump’s push to lease parcels of ANWR before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on 20 Jan. Some analysts have pointed out it may be difficult to finalise sales by that date, AFP reported

Oil prices are also hovering around $45 a barrel, so companies may not be motivated to lease drilling sites far from major infrastructure. International financial institutions have also promised not to fund drilling in the refuge.

"Nearly 30 major banks around the world (now including all 6 major U.S. banks!) have concluded that funding new Arctic drilling — especially the Arctic Refuge, which Trump is recklessly trying to destroy — is far too risky and bad for business," Cushing tweeted.

Environmental and Indigenous groups have long opposed drilling in the ANWR, partly because of its potential impact on Indigenous rights and endangered species such as polar bears and caribou. ANWR’s coastal plain is the birthing and nursing ground for the Porcupine Caribou herd, and the Gwich’in Nation of Canada and Alaska considers it the "Sacred Place Where Life Begins." In 1988, the nation formed the Gwich’in Steering Committee to oppose oil and gas drilling on the plain.

"The Trump administration has never even pretended to care about the Indigenous communities whose human rights would be threatened by the destruction of the coastal plain, but major financial institutions are listening to us," Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff said in the Sierra Club press release. 

"We will never stop fighting to protect the sacred calving grounds from destructive drilling, and we will prevail."

Source: EcoWatch All Images: Annie Spratt via Unsplash 

There are serious political and legal obstacles: The Biden administration would likely try to block key permits, and our coalition will never stop fighting to prevent the destruction of this sacred place.
Even if the Trump administration manages to sell leases before Inauguration Day, there are many reasons to doubt that wells will ever be drilled in the refuge. There are serious political and legal obstacles: The Biden administration would likely try to block key permits, and our coalition will never stop fighting to prevent the destruction of this sacred place. Source: Unsplash/Annie Spratt
Every major US bank has joined the list of nearly 30 major banks worldwide that have committed to not fund the destruction of the Arctic.
Drilling in such a remote area is extremely risky and expensive, which is why the smart money is staying away. Every major US bank has joined the list of nearly 30 major banks worldwide that have committed to not fund the destruction of the Arctic. Source: Unsplash/Annie Spratt
We have to #StopTheMoneyPipeline going from Wall Street to the fossil fuel industry for good.
Preventing further climate chaos means that banks have to go far beyond just ending funding for Arctic drilling, or coal, or even tar sands. We have to #StopTheMoneyPipeline going from Wall Street to the fossil fuel industry for good. Source: Unsplash/Annie Spratt
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