Fracking Fiasco: The Banks That Fueled The U.S. Shale Bust

new report by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Oil Change International reveals that financing for the fracking industry is highly concentrated, with Wells Fargo the biggest banker of U.S. frackers since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted, and JPMorgan Chase a standout second place. The fracking industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, with dozens of bankruptcies so far this year, but its troubles long predate the coronavirus.

The report shows banks have continued financing the fracking industry through the years despite numerous warnings that the sector was financially unsustainable — on top of the well-documented environmental, health and climate impacts of fracking.

“The fracking sector has become a poster child for the serious problems facing the U.S. oil and gas industry,” said Alison Kirsch, lead researcher of RAN’s Climate and Energy program. “The disastrous climate consequences of fracking, as well as the horrific community health impacts, are well known, but the continued billions of dollars pouring into this dying sector means that banks are injecting a real level of systemic risk as well to the U.S. economy.”

“The history of the oil industry is one of repeated booms and busts. Every time both oilmen and bankers swear the next time will be different. It never is. But this time must be different. The planet cannot afford any more oil booms,” said [OCI]. “The lesson for the future is that banks will need to be forced by regulators, shareholders and the public to consider the climate impact of their business activities so that they do not facilitate yet another oil boom when the current pandemic is past.”

“[The money that these banks are pouring into the troubled fracking industry has real impacts on my community…],” said Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth, a grassroots citizens’ group fighting to bring an end to unconventional natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania.

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