Bank of America Says It Won’t Finance Oil and Gas Exploration in the Arctic

Bank of America Corp. said that it won’t provide project financing for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic after facing opposition from environmentalists.

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

Environmental campaigners have criticized the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender for its stance. Earlier this month, the Sierra Club singled out Bank of America as “the only major U.S. bank not to rule out financing for the destruction of the Arctic refuge” after its five biggest competitors updated their policies this year. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is advancing plans to auction drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Bank of America has said it aims to position itself as a leader in environmental, social and governance matters in the financial industry through underwriting green bonds, reducing carbon emissions and supporting global climate initiatives. It has a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Ben Cushing, a senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club, said the banks’ policies call into question future projects in the Arctic.

“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,” he said in a statement.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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