By Rachel Koning Beals
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon resoundingly assured lawmakers that his bank has no intention of stopping the financing of growth in the oil patch.
Dimon, who appeared with other top banking executives on Capitol Hill Wednesday, was asked by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the Democrat of Michigan, to give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response to a handful of questions. That included whether JPMorgan /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM -1.40% has a policy against funding new oil and gas products.
“Absolutely not and that would be the road to hell for America,” said Dimon, whose bank is the largest U.S. provider of loans and other capital to the energy sector.
Sixty banks profiled in a report issued earlier this year funneled $185.5 billion last year alone into the 100 companies doing the most to expand the oil /zigman2/quotes/209723049/delayed CL00 +0.52% and gas sector. The report was from a group of environmental nonprofit organizations in their 13th annual Banking on Climate Chaos release.
The Biden administration has used its slim congressional majority to pass legislation on top of executive orders for a shift toward alternative energy that is intended to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and hit net-zero by 2050. The energy sector contributes about 40% of global heat-trapping CO2. Three quarters of those emissions come from the six largest economies, including the U.S. and China at the top, the World Bank says.
Republicans and some business executives maintain that while solar, wind and nuclear /zigman2/quotes/205740995/composite ICLN -0.95% can take up more of the nation’s energy needs, traditional oil and gas needs to play a role due to high energy costs and to help foster U.S. energy independence.
The release scrutinizing banks said that in the six years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which set a goal for global warming of no more than 2 degrees Celsius and, ideally, 1.5 degrees, the world’s 60 largest banks financed fossil fuels with $4.6 trillion in loans and other capital.
The report showed that overall fossil-fuel financing remains dominated by four U.S. banks, with Dimon’s JPMorgan Chase , Citigroup /zigman2/quotes/207741460/composite C -1.30% , Wells Fargo /zigman2/quotes/203790192/composite WFC -2.25% , and Bank of America /zigman2/quotes/200894270/composite BAC -2.87% together accounting for one quarter of all fossil fuel financing identified over the last six years.
On Wednesday, lawmakers further questioned bank CEOs on inflation and home ownership on the same day that the Federal Reserve delivered another anticipated interest-rate hike. Republican members deemed the Capitol Hill appearances as unnecessary for the banking executives. The CEOs largely pushed back on capital requirements and lauded their role in keeping capital flowing as the economy navigates tricky territory as the world works its way back from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CEOs will testify before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed .