Bank of America appears to renege on pledge to not finance new coal projects

Businesses have faced a conservative backlash over environmental policies

Although Bank of America pledged in 2021 to no longer finance any new coal mines and plants, or Arctic oil drilling, such projects will now face "enhanced due diligence" from the company, according to its "Environmental and Social Risk Policy Framework" from December 2023. 

Bank of America’s December 2021 "Environmental and Social Risk Policy Framework" stated the company "will not directly finance new thermal coal mines or the expansion of existing mines," including, "petroleum exploration or production activities in the Arctic," The New York Times reported. 

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BAC BANK OF AMERICA CORP. 40.00 +0.47 +1.19%

It added it would also not "directly finance the construction or expansion of new coal-fired power plants," with certain caveats. 

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Front of a Bank of America building

Bank of America is walking back one of its 2021 climate policies.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

But those statements were removed from the 2023 version. 

Bank of America told FOX Business in a statement, "We have a risk-based process for client transactions. Certain client relationships or transactions that carry heightened risks will continue to go through an enhanced due diligence process involving senior level risk review." 

The change comes as some states, like New Hampshire, Texas and West Virginia, have passed laws to prevent banks from refusing to finance coal projects, and have even sought to criminalize what is called, "environmental, social and governance" principles within companies, according to The Times. 

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Mined coal moves along a conveyor belt. (FOX Business / Fox News)

The conservative backlash to environmental considerations in business has led other companies to pull back from certain eco-friendly initiatives. 

Last Monday, a coalition of 12 Republican state agriculture commissioners wrote a letter to six large U.S. banks, including Bank of America, over their net-zero ambitions, opening a new front in the pushback against what they call "woke investing," a fight that has primarily been spearheaded by state attorneys general and financial officers.

All six banks are members of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA). 

Oil pipelines

Oil pipelines stretch across the landscape outside Nuiqsut, Alaska.  (Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post via Getty Images / File / Getty Images)

State officials warned that the banks' involvement in the global eco alliance may impact food availability, lead to price increases, limit credit access for farmers, and have broad negative economic consequences.

"American agriculture is sending a clear signal: we will not bend the knee to the failed, left-wing climate agenda of the United Nations that seeks to cripple one of our country’s most critical industries," Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper told FOX Business. 

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"Now more than ever, banks that do business with America should be unquestionably supporting American industries — and that starts with the one that puts food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and shelter over our heads," Harper continued. "The UN’s Net-Zero Banking Alliance would be the equivalent of a run on the bank for our nation’s agriculture industry and pose a serious threat to our national security — and it must be stopped."

FOX Business' Cate Nacci contributed to this report.