November 12, 2020

David Turnbull,
Kyle Gracey,
Collin Rees,

Updated analysis: Top US banks still propping up Mountain Valley fracked-gas pipeline boondoggle 

After years of delays, permit rejections, public pressure, and changing winds for energy policy with a Biden Administration in the offing, eight main street U.S. banks have substantially increased their investment in the troubled Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline project, updated analysis by Oil Change International revealed today.

Eight of the leading personal banking services in the United States continue to account for the bulk of the project’s top ten investors, and they have significantly increased their funding for the project since May of 2017. Through bonds, loans and revolving credit, these banks have more than tripled their financing from $1.25 billion to $9.5 billion, more than enough needed to cover the costs of the pipeline, including the cost of planned capacity expansion and a new proposed extension, today’s analysis finds.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline project had originally been set to end construction in late 2018, but has been delayed until at least mid-2021, thanks to staunch public opposition, permit denials, and construction delays. Just this week, a federal court stayed two critical permits, stopping construction across streams and wetlands while a legal challenge is considered. Meanwhile, the cost — considered the highest per-mile of any gas pipeline in the country — continues to grow to nearly $6 billion for the original 301-mile project segment. What’s more, the project has added a new 75-mile segment — the Southgate Extension — which would cost an additional $468 million and add significant carbon impacts to the project.

“The Mountain Valley Pipeline has always been a climate disaster and a risky investment for banks at the same time. Our analysis shows that instead of listening to their customers who are demanding they get out of the fossil fuel business, these banks are doubling down on their dirty and fraught investments in a project that will either help to cook our planet if built or turn into a stranded asset if logic prevails,” said Kyle Gracey, researcher with Oil Change International and author of the updated analysis.

The key consumer banks financing the project include JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, TD, PNC, Union Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and U.S. Bank.

With a Biden Administration waiting in the wings, the future of fossil fuels is growing cloudier by the day. President-elect Biden has set a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2035 for the country, which would put fossil fuel power plants, including fracked gas power plants, on the chopping block in the years to come. A volatile market for gas, and growing certainty that the end of fossil fuels is near means that the Mountain Valley Pipeline faces an uphill battle to prove its worthiness as an investment, putting aside its large climate impacts.

“It’s time for EQT Midstream Partners to abandon this boondoggle before the project does any more damage to the communities in its path. So far, banks are dumping billions of dollars into a 400-mile pit with nothing to show for it. Every dollar financed and spent to build this project is a wasted dollar that could be put towards the energy transition we need to protect communities and stem the climate crisis,” Gracey said.

The updated analysis, “New Money Behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” can be found here:

The original report from May 2017, “The Money Behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” can be found here: