Filthy 15

Coal: the largest source of global warming pollution in the U.S.

Fossil Free Funds is no longer screening for the Filthy 15.

Check out the Macroclimate® 50, an exclusion list of the 50 largest public-company owners of coal-fired power plants in Developed Markets plus China and India.


Coal is among the largest source of global warming pollution in the world. Obtaining it destroys mountains, burning it releases hazardous emissions, and disposing of it results in hazardous toxic waste. Coal is scorching the planet and leaving a legacy of devastation in its wake.

The Filthy 15 are some of the largest, dirtiest coal mining companies and coal-fired utilities in the U.S. These companies are emitting massive amounts of CO2 and fueling climate change while jeopardizing public health, damaging the environment, and placing an unfair burden on low-income communities.

Given coal’s volatility and unsustainable business model, it is becoming an increasingly risky investment. Since its release in 2012, four of the coal mining companies from the Filthy 15 have declared bankruptcy.

The coal mining and coal burning companies in the Filthy 15 are:

  • American Electric Power
  • Ameren
  • CONSOL Energy
  • Duke Energy
  • First Energy
  • Southern Company
  • PPL Corp
  • NRG Energy
  • Dominion Resources
  • Edison International
  • Berkshire Hathaway (owner of MidAmerican Energy)
  • Peabody Energy
    FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY IN 2016
  • Arch Coal
    FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY IN 2016
  • Alpha Natural Resources
    FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY IN 2015
    DELISTED
  • Patriot Coal
    FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY IN 2012
    WENT PRIVATE
Coal extraction

Coal Burning Companies

Coal-fired power plants contribute to mercury and particulate pollution, arsenic and other toxic groundwater contamination, ozone smog, acid rain, regional haze, and global warming. There is a direct link between this pollution and human health. In 2010 alone, coal plants were responsible for 17,057 deaths, 26,248 heart attacks, 281,242 asthma attacks, and other severe health impacts. Many coal-fired power plants are located near low-income communities placing the greatest health burden on the people who can least afford it.

These polluters were selected based on the following criteria:

  • The amount of coal burned
  • The amount of pollution emitted from coal-fired plants
  • Amount of coal ash waste produced and how it is handled
  • Environmental health and safety violations
  • Legal issues
  • Aggregated health impacts
  • Egregious environmental justice issues
  • Influence peddling via political donations

Coal Mining Companies

Coal mining causes irreparable damage to land, water, and air and also poses risks to the health, safety, and vitality of local communities. The most destructive type of coal mining, known as mountaintop removal, involves coal companies literally blowing off the tops of mountains to reach thin seams of coal and leaving the debris in valleys and streams, leading to ecosystem damage and impaired landscapes. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, in West Virginia alone, more than 300,000 acres of hardwood forests and 1,000 miles of streams have been destroyed by mountaintop removal for coal.

The mining companies were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Overall tons of coal mined
  • Method of extraction
  • Environment and safety regulation violations
  • Influence peddling via political donations
Coal mining