Friday, October 30, 2015

Reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank Is Bad News for the Climate, Environmentalists Say

In this July 28, 2015, file photo, a man walks out of the Export-Import Bank of the United States in Washington. A strong coalition of establishment-backed Republicans and House Democrats voted overwhelmingly Oct. 27 to revive the Export-Import Bank, dealing a defeat to tea party conservatives and Speaker Paul Ryan. (Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Click to Enlarge.
With bipartisan support, the House of Representatives voted this week to approve the reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank.  The measure passed 313-118, with a majority of Republicans joining almost all Democrats.

Even with years of uproar from environmental organizations and restrictions on the financing of coal projects, the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank did not include reforms needed to stop the agency from financing fossil fuel and fracking projects overseas.

The Ex-Im Bank, a federally-owned agency that promotes U.S. exports by providing credit and loan guarantees to foreign buyers, has financed billions of dollars worth of coal and gas fired power plants in South Africa, Papua New Guinea, and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, among other places.

“The House of Representatives’ Ex-Im reauthorization bill exposes the U.S. government to increasing financial and corruption risks by failing to institute reforms to ensure projects abide by environmental and social safeguards,” said Kate DeAngelis, international policy analyst at Friends of the Earth (FOE), in a statement.
In December 2013, in response to the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan, the Ex-Im Bank board voted to stop funding the construction of new coal plants overseas, with certain exceptions.  The issue of climate change split the Democrats over reauthorization of the bank the following year.  Financial interests in certain states, as well as coal lobbies and other stakeholders on Capitol Hill have put pressure on representatives to roll-back restrictions on Ex-Im.

“We want a complaints mechanism to be put in place, so when terrible things happen, there is a way for complaints to be brought to Ex-Im,” said DeAngelis.  “We want to see other reforms being implemented properly and fully, so it’s not just something Ex-Im can check a box and ignore.”

Read more at Reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank Is Bad News for the Climate, Environmentalists Say

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