Energy Secretary Takes a Swipe at Big Banks That Won’t Invest In Arctic Drilling

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press via The New York Times

The Secretary of Energy stunningly accused the major financial institutions that refuse to now invest in Arctic oil and gas exploration of discrimination against the oil and gas industry and likened the decision to the banks’ refusal in the past to make loans to minorities.  In an interview with Axios, here is exactly what he said:

“For years and years and years, banks would not lend money, insurance companies would not write policies in minority areas in the country. 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.”

Why This Matters:  Arctic drilling has been fought due to its environmental toll since the 1960s,  The Administration can raise false flags (as if oil and gas companies at all resemble minorities subjected to systemic racism) and twist the facts, but in the end, drilling won’t happen without financial backers and the prospect that it would be profitable. It’s absurd to feel bad for either the unfairly maligned big banks or those “poor” oil and gas companies.  It’s an outrageous and deeply insensitive comparison.

Which Banks Won’t Drill?

In 1980, Congress decreed that no exploratory drilling or production could occur without further congressional action — and it stayed that way until President Trump demanded authority to lease the land for drilling, despite the ample domestic supply of oil and gas. So far, as we have reported, numerous banks now refuse to fund Arctic drilling projects after a vigorous public campaign by many climate change advocates.  Axios explained yesterday that since last December, “five of America’s six biggest banks — Goldman SachsWells FargoCitiMorgan Stanley and JPMorgan — have announced they won’t directly finance new oil and gas development in the Arctic. This includes specifically the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”  The problem for Alaska is that its current oil and gas drilling projects are drying up — they have been slowly declining for decades. Given the state of oil and gas prices right now and for the foreseeable future, investment in oil and gas exploration and development there is not of interest to the banks and the negative publicity around their current investments is not helping to create excitement around new drilling in the Arctic.


Senator Bernie Sanders said:Racist redlining denied wealth to generations of Black Americans. Today, the fossil fuel industry dumps its pollution on communities of color. This comment from Trump’s Energy Secretary is disgusting.”

Bill McKibben of said: “The Secretary of Energy thinks that banks deciding not to invest in oil and gas because of climate change is the same as banks redlining minority communities for decades. This is some combination of gross and pathetic.”

Cleaning Up The Mess

After the comment, the Energy Department spokesperson put out this statement: “Secretary Brouillette has zero tolerance for discrimination of any type, and he was not in any way equating the plight of minority communities to that of energy companies,” Department of Energy spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said of the redlining analogy. “Accusing him of doing so in order to manufacture a dramatic headline is both disingenuous and not based in any truth.”

Up Next

Interview with Jason Bordoff, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University

This week, we sat down with Jason Bordoff, who served on the National Security Council staff in the Obama Administration and then founded the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

Continue Reading 156 words
Science Moms Take On Climate Change

Science Moms Take On Climate Change

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer On Tuesday, a group of six scientists and mothers teamed up with the Potential Energy Coalition to launch Science Moms, a nonpartisan group of scientists that aims to empower moms to get involved in the fight against climate change. The group hopes to demystify the conversation surrounding climate change […]

Continue Reading 536 words
Judge Garland Will Bring Rare Environmental Experience to Attorney General Role

Judge Garland Will Bring Rare Environmental Experience to Attorney General Role

Judge Merrick Garland is expected to “respect science and the rule of law” if confirmed as Attorney General. Plus he has deep experience, having heard many environmental cases over his twenty-plus years on the bench in Washington, D.C. 

Why This Matters: I (Monica) can’t think of an Attorney General who has spent this much time digging into the details of challenging environmental cases.

Continue Reading 459 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.