Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were the top three financiers of the coal industry last year, according to a report today from three environmental groups.
The three banks helped underwrite bonds or loans totaling $8 billion for mountaintop removal coal-mining operations and power plants, or 38 percent of the total $20.8 billion investment for such activities last year, according to the fourth annual Coal Finance Report Card from the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack and the Sierra Club.
Total investment in the U.S. coal industry sank 50 percent from 2011 as banks sought to reduce their exposure to a fuel that’s the largest source of greenhouse gases, said Ben Collins, an analyst at San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network and a lead author of the study.
“Banks are becoming more aware of the harms caused by coal and the risks associated with an industry in decline,” Collins said in an interview. “The decline in investment reflects their due diligence.”
Bank of America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, helped arrange $3.03 billion for coal miners or plants last year, down 48 percent from 2011, according to the report. Citigroup followed with $2.75 billion and then JPMorgan with $2.17 billion.
The results contrast with banks’ efforts to increase lending to clean-energy projects and reduce their in-house carbon footprints.
Globally, Citigroup was the leading bank last year in terms of investments in clean energy and improving its environmental impact in a ranking released by Bloomberg Markets magazine. JPMorgan ranked third greenest-bank, while Bank of America came in 23rd.
Jennifer Kim, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan, declined to comment. Tyler Daluz, a spokesman for Citigroup, and Britney Sheehan, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment on April 26..