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Three major investment banks, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, will announce new environmental standards today that are expected to make it more difficult for large coal-fired power plants in the United States to get funding. The standards anticipate some form of cap-and-trade program becoming law in the U.S. in coming years and seek to force utilities to plan for the inevitable; coal plants seeking funding would first have to prove they can be financially viable under a cap-and-trade system. The three banks said that they would consider funding energy efficiency measures and renewable-energy projects ahead of coal plants and that when funding coal projects they’ll heavily favor plants that can successfully capture and sequester their carbon emissions. The banks maintain that their primary motivation for the standards is financial; Wall Street bigwigs don’t want to be stuck with debt when coal plants are forced to pay for at least a portion of their emission allowances under cap and trade. Jeffrey Holzschuh of Morgan Stanley paraphrased Melissa Etheridge, crooning, “We have to wake up some people who are asleep.”

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