Trump's last-minute Arctic drilling push is failing

Days after Trump tried to stop banks from rejecting Arctic drilling, Bank of America has rejected Arctic drilling.

Hi folks! Remember back in June when my apartment flooded? Well, it’s just been a series of nightmares since then, but yesterday I moved into a new place! The ghosts seem much happier here.

Anyway, in light of all the moving and unpacking, I don’t have too much for you today except some news about the Arctic Refuge and Week 9 book club information. Although, if you would still like your daily dose of me talking about climate change, I’ll be on my favorite public radio program, 1A, this morning at 10 a.m. EST.

Listen to 1A

If you can’t listen live, the button above will also take you the full segment after it airs. Specifically, I’ll be talking about what climate policy might look like under Joe Biden’s presidency, and I’ll be joined by former EPA Administrator and current NRDC President Gina McCarthy and Greg Bertelson of the Climate Leadership Council.

In the meantime, here’a little news for you while I’m unpacking.

Bank of America has become the sixth and final big U.S. bank to say no to Arctic drilling.

Mere days after we reported that the lame duck Trump administration proposed a rule forcing banks to consider funding oil drilling projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Bank of America has announced that it won’t consider funding oil drilling projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Bloomberg’s Lananh Nguyen has the story:

Bank of America Corp. said that it won’t provide project financing for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic after facing opposition from environmentalists.

“There’s been misunderstanding around our position, but we have not historically participated in project finance for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic,” Larry Di Rita, the bank’s head of public policy and strategy in Washington, said Monday in an interview. “But given that misinterpretation, we’ve determined that it’s time to codify our existing practice into policy.”

Environmental campaigners have criticized the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender for its stance. Earlier this month, the Sierra Club singled out Bank of America as “the only major U.S. bank not to rule out financing for the destruction of the Arctic refuge” after its five biggest competitors updated their policies this year.

This means every major American bank has now implemented some sort of policy against oil and gas development in the sensitive Arctic region, which indigenous and environmental activists have been fighting to protect for the last 40 years.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge still isn’t completely safe from fossil fuel extraction. The Trump administration still plans to go through with its last-minute push to sell off drilling leases there before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

It’s unclear, however, to what degree oil companies are actually going to show up to Trump’s sale. “Oil and gas companies aren’t talking publicly about whether they’d bid,” Alaska Public Media reports. And while we won’t see the bids until lease sale day, experts aren’t expecting a huge response, primarily due to the fact that oil drilling in the Arctic doesn’t seem like a very good investment.

“Even though Alaska politicians and industry groups have long fought to get drill rigs on the coastal plain, which is thought to hold billions of barrels of oil, [experts say] there’s currently a thick layer of uncertainty and risk that could lead to limited interest in a lease sale if one happens within the next couple months,” reports APM.

It also doesn’t help that every single major U.S. bank has publicly refused to provide funding for such projects. “Most of today’s likely bidders would need outside financing to actually get anything out of their Arctic leases,” reports Bloomberg Quint.

Public opinion is another potential deterrent. Approximately 70 percent of Americans oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge, as the consequences would be severe for indigenous peoplewildlife, and the climate.

Still, it’s unlikely the Trump administration would go through all the last-minute work of selling off the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if there weren’t some interest from oil companies. When bids are unsealed on lease sale day, we’ll know which companies those are—and they’ll have to a lot to answer for.

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All We Can Save book club: Week 9

Today’s the ninth and second-to-last official day of HEATED’s book club partnership with All We Can Save, an anthology of female climate wisdom edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson.

The section you’ll be reading and discussing in your “circles” this week is “Rise,” which features essays by inspiring leaders like youth activist Alexandria Villaseñor and political scientist Leah Stokes. You can learn more about all the section’s authors in the supplementary materials section below.


Read 1 poem or quote from this section to open.


Share your name + someone who inspires you to rise. (Circle leader should go first and model this.)


Move through 3 generous questions.

  1. If you were to write a letter—a plea—about the climate crisis, to whom would you send it?

  2. Can you imagine the community that will heal the climate crisis? Tell us about what you imagine…  

  3. How might we cultivate our widening circles of action?


Read 1 poem or quote from this section to close.


Alexandria Villaseñor

Colette Pichon Battle

Alice Walker

Leah Cardamore Stokes

Mary Oliver

Sarah Stillman

Christine E. Nieves Rodriguez

OK, that’s all for today—thanks for reading HEATED! To support independent climate journalism that holds the powerful accountable—and to receive HEATED’s reporting and analysis in your inbox four days a week—become a subscriber today.

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Stay hydrated, eat plants (I like bananas), do push-ups, and have a great day!