JPMorgan Secretly Emailed the Trump Administration About Bailing Out the Oil Industry – By Rebecca Leber (Mother Jones) / April 7 2021
The bank has promised big action on climate—but it still wants to finance fossil fuels.
In October, top executives at JPMorgan Chase wrote in an op-ed for Fortune that the “clock is ticking” on the climate crisis and that JPMorgan planned to be part of the solution. The bank, they said, would align its immense financing portfolio to meet the Paris climate goals in the oil and gas, electric power, and automotive sectors. “We’re optimistic that industry and governments will harness the momentum and rise to the challenge,” they wrote. “Our bank intends to, and our shared future depends on it.”
Environmental watchdogs have had their doubts about JPMorgan’s commitment—not least because the bank at the time had on its board of directors the former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, a longtime climate skeptic who led the corporation when it aggressively fought government action to address climate change. Recently, in a report on fossil fuel financing by the climate group Rainforest Action Network, JPMorgan Chase earned the distinction as the “worst banker of fossil fuels” between 2016 to 2020, financing nearly $317 billion for the fossil fuel industry in that period, including oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and tar-sands extraction in Canada.
For example, the executives proposed a program modeled after the student loan TARP program to give the banking sector an injection of government-backed equity when it was facing steep losses.
The bank undercuts its climate promises in important ways that are less visible to the public. The environmental group Friends of the Earth obtained emails from last April between JPMorgan Chase and top Treasury Department officials through a Freedom of Information Request and subsequent lawsuit. The batch of emails show JPMorgan requesting changes to government lending programs meant to help smaller and medium-sized businesses weather the economic fallout of the pandemic. They also capture an unusual snapshot of Wall Street’s interdependence on the future of fossil fuels.