Progressives introduce bill to stop big banks from financing fossil fuel industry

Washington DC – Progressive Reps. Mondaire Jones, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib joined forces to introduce new legislation on Wednesday aimed at defunding the fossil fuel industry.

New York Rep. Mondaire Jones has co-sponsored a bill to limit the financing of fossil fuel projects.
New York Rep. Mondaire Jones has co-sponsored a bill to limit the financing of fossil fuel projects.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The bill, known as the Fossil Free Finance Act, would require the Federal Reserve to gradually stop financing fossil fuel projects, The Nation reported.

Big banks would no longer be allowed to fund any new or expanded fossil fuel projects after 2022 or any projects at all after 2030.

A recent report found that the world's 60 largest banks have provided around $4 trillion to the fossil fuel industry in the last five years.

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The proposed legislation seeks to remedy that and hold financial institutions to commitments made under the Paris Agreement.

The bill has received endorsements from climate action groups including Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, the Revolving Door Project, and Americans for Financial Reform.

Co-sponsors say there is no time to wait

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley also co-sponsored the Fossil Free Finance Act.
Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley also co-sponsored the Fossil Free Finance Act.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The progressive co-sponsors of the bill argue that time is too short to continue allowing big financial institutions to continue along the same path.

"The climate crisis poses an existential threat to every aspect of our society, including our economy and financial system," Jones said of the legislation.

"The Federal Reserve has failed to acknowledge climate change as the threat that it is. As climate disasters grow in frequency and intensity, we can no longer afford to stand by while big banks and other financial institutions invest trillions in the companies fueling the climate crisis."

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Pressley stated, "For too long, our federal government has looked the other way while our nation’s largest banks bankroll the dirtiest fossil fuel projects, exacerbating the climate crisis and setting us up for a massive, climate-induced economic collapse."

"That must change. It’s time for a financial system that is truly safe, sound, and just. One that recognizes the existential threat posed by climate change and takes aggressive action to save our economy, save our planet, and save lives."

The call comes as progressives urge the Biden administration to name a new Federal Reserve chair dedicated to bolder climate measures.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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