Over the past decade, the market for Mountain West coal has cooled. Renewables and natural gas in the U.S. are cheaper, stocks are tumbling and some coal companies are even teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
But according to a new report authored by a coalition of environmental groups, big banks are investing more heavily in U.S. coal companies under the Trump administration.
“They look like good deals,” said Jason Disterhoft of the Rainforest Action Network.
The banks, he said, are offering short-term loans to coal companies in part because they are struggling.
“Banks are going to be able to charge a higher interest rate to a company that has demonstrated financial vulnerability,” he said.
The Trump administration has also been really friendly to the industry. Officials have relaxed environmental regulations and the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Change accords.
Europe and Asia are also demanding more U.S. coal, and, as a result, production has risen for the first time since 2014.
And all of this means – at least short-term – that coal might be having a rebound and banks such as JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are hopping on board.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.