27 Groups Oppose OCC Rule Forcing Banks to Lend to Climate Polluters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen and more than two dozen groups on Monday submitted comments to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) opposing the deceptively titled Fair Access to Financial Services proposed rule. The rule would pressure and, in some cases, require banks to lend to fossil fuel companies, without regard to strategic or reputational risk. Yevgeny Shrago, policy counsel for Public Citizen’s Energy and Climate Program, released the following statement:

“The proposed rule flatly contradicts the OCC’s mission by threatening the safety and soundness of banks seeking to mitigate climate-related risks. It twists the language of racial justice and redlining to justify pressuring banks to lend to the increasingly risky fossil fuel industry.

“The rule also fails to consider the increasing credit and operational risks of the fossil fuel industry. Banks cutting ties with the industry are responding prudently to developments such as the rapid shift toward a low-carbon economy and the fossil fuel industry’s disproportionate reliance on CARES Act bailouts.

“The rule exceeds the OCC’s legal authority and defines fair access to financial services in a way that could compel lending to risky, climate-harming industries. The OCC should withdraw this proposal and use its real legal authority to ensure that banks appropriately account for and reduce climate risk, including their own contributions to it. Banks continue to provide trillions in direct fossil fuel financing. The OCC must address climate harms that will stress the financial system and the broader economy.”

Please contact the individuals listed above to speak with Shrago or David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program.