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Trump administration accused of trying to bully banks into financing Arctic fossil fuel extraction

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President Donald Trump speaking to reporters outside the White House (screengrab)

Responding to grassroots pressure and shareholder activism, five of the six largest U.S. banks have decided they want no part of financing fossil fuel drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—but that isn’t stopping the Trump administration from what critics on Friday called bullying banks into funding oil and gas extraction.

“No amount of saber-rattling in the final days of the Trump administration is going to change the fact that Arctic drilling is a risky investment that any savvy financial institution would stay far away from.”
—Ben Cushing, Sierra Club
The Wall Street Journal reports the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Friday proposed a new rule that would bar financial institutions from refusing to lend to entire categories of lawful businesses. In the name of “fair access,” the proposed rule would force banks to finance not only the fossil fuel industry that is largely responsible for the ever-worsening climate emergency, but also other highly controversial sectors such as for-profit private prisons and firearms manufacturers.

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“We need to stop the weaponization of banking as a political tool,” Brian Brooks, the acting comptroller, told the Journal. “It’s creating real economic dislocations.”

Under the proposal—which came on the heels of complaints by Republican politicians that banks are discriminating against Big Oil—institutional lenders would only be permitted to decline loans if an applicant failed to meet “quantitative, impartial, risk-based standards established by the bank in advance.”

The proposal will be open for public comment until January 4, 2021 before it is subject to final approval. That would leave Brooks just over two weeks to enact the measure before President Donald Trump leaves office on January 20. The financial services industry is likely to push back against the proposal, fearing it could force banks to finance individuals, entitites, or endeavors against their will.

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Critics say the measure is meant to compel banks to finance destructive drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to the Gwich’in Indigenous people and hundreds of animal species. On Tuesday, the Trump administration began accepting requests from fossil fuel companies staking claims to where they want to drill for oil and natural gas. This, as Arctic temperatures warm to record high and Arctic sea ice recedes to record low levels.

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Sierra Club campaign representative Ben Cushing fired back against GOP “discrimination” claims.

“Contrary to the claims of oil-backed politicians, banks don’t want to finance more drilling in the Arctic not because of some vast liberal conspiracy, but because it’s bad business,” he said in a statement Friday. “The idea that this constitutes discrimination is ludicrous. No amount of saber-rattling in the final days of the Trump administration is going to change the fact that Arctic drilling is a risky investment that any savvy financial institution would stay far away from.”


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‘Insane baby’ Trump mocked after holding a press briefing — and then fleeing after just 60 seconds

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday held a "press briefing" that consisted of him boasting about the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting a record-high 30,000 points -- and then running away without taking any questions.

The president's truly brief press briefing utterly baffled observers, many of whom wondered why the president couldn't have simply bragged about the stock market on his Twitter account.

Check out some reactions below.

oh my god that insane baby

— Oliver Willis (@owillis) November 24, 2020

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2020 Election

Trump abruptly ends news conference after 1 minute as reporters grill him on conceding

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President Donald Trump took one minute out of his day on Thursday to hold a press conference in which he took credit for gains in the stock market, which came after President-elect Joe Biden's transition was allowed to formally begin.

At his press conference which lasted almost exactly one minute, Trump credited his administration for after the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 30,000 for the first time.

"The stock market, it's just broken 30,000," the president said. "Never broken that number. That's a sacred number. Nobody thought they would ever see it. That's the ninth time since the beginning of 2020 and it's the 48th time that we have broken records in -- during the Trump administration."

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Paul Krugman says Trump’s final days in office are like a Star Wars sequel: ‘The Loser Strikes Back’

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Writing in the New York Times this Tuesday, columnist Paul Krugman says that while we all knew that President Trump would react badly to losing the 2020 election,  his temper tantrum and the "willingness of almost the entire Republican Party to indulge him have surpassed even pessimists’ expectations."

According to Krugman, Trump's crusade to wreck America on his way out is like a Star Wars sequel, titled: "The Loser Strikes Back."

Krugman writes that Trump administration officials are already trying to sabotage the economy, "setting the stage for a possible financial crisis on Joe Biden’s watch."

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