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Export-Import Bank and coal

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The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) is a U.S. federal government agency which describes its mission as "to assist in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets" by providing "export financing products that fill gaps in trade financing. We assume credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept."[1]

The bank states that it "provides working capital guarantees (pre-export financing); export credit insurance; and loan guarantees and direct loans (buyer financing)."[1] The Chairman and President of the bank is Fred Hochberg, a strong financial supporter and fundraiser for Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates.[2]

Financing of Coal Plants

Background

In 2004, the Ex-Im Bank adopted "global environmental standards," and in 2009 the bank adopted a carbon policy. Yet according to a recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, more than 95% of Ex-Im's energy portfolio is based on fossil fuels, and in 2009 Ex-Im Bank financing for renewable energy was less than .5% of the agency's total financing. The US Ex-Im Bank Board is expected to take up a "due diligence" vote on Kusile by the end of 2010.[3]

Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project

In June 2010, the Ex-Im rejected a loan guarantee to India-based Reliance Industries to buy $600 million in equipment from Wisconsin-based Bucyrus for the coal-fired 4,000 megawatt (MW) Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project, proposed in India, and then reversed its decision. The initial rejection was in part due to the bank instituting a formal carbon policy in November 2009, in response to environmental concerns. Days after turning down the request by Reliance, however, state Democrats complained that 1,000 jobs would be lost if the deal didn’t go through, and on the eve of a visit from President Obama to Wisconsin, the bank asked Reliance to submit a revised bid that added a pledge to build “among the largest renewable projects built in India to date” with the help of American green tech. The bank calls the situation “a win-win” for the environment and exporters. Some environmentalists call it greenwashing. “They collapsed like a wet paper bag,” says Doug Norlen of the nonprofit group Pacific Environment. Ex-Im is now considering an even bigger coal project, the Kusile Power Station, in South Africa.[4]

Kusile Power Station

On April 14, 2011, Black & Veatch Corp. won preliminary approval for $805.6 million in financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank for the Kusile Power Station, proposed for South Africa's Mpumalanga Province. The project will include six units and have a total capacity of 4,800 megawatts. The Kusile Power Station and the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project, proposed in India, would be two of the world's largest coal-fired power plants.

The Ex-Im Bank's approval brought immediate criticism from environmental groups. “Ex-Im Bank directors’ decision to support Kusile was made despite their full knowledge of the unacceptable damage the project will cause,” said Sunita Dubey, U.S. representative of Groundwork South Africa, a group opposing Kusile. They “disregarded the impact on people’s health and livelihoods.”[5][6]

August 11, 2010, had marked the comment deadline for the Environmental Impact Assessment on the Kusile project. US citizens submitted nearly 7,500 public comments in opposition to the US government's contribution to the project and its environmental impacts, including annually emitting more than 150% of the annual carbon dioxide emissions from projects supported by the Ex-Im Bank in 2009.[7]

Coal ports

In July 2013 a coalition of environmental groups filed suit against the Export-Import Bank, challenging the federal agency’s financing of fossil fuel exports from ports in Baltimore and Hampton Roads. The suit targets a $90 million loan guarantee that the Ex-Im Bank made in 2012 to Xcoal Energy & Resources, a Pennsylvania coal broker, to sell coal from Appalachian mines to customers in Asia and Italy. The plaintiffs claim that the bank failed to conduct a required environmental review before providing the guarantee. They want to block a portion of the $90 million that hasn’t yet been disbursed through Xcoal’s intermediary, PNC Bank.[8]

Personnel

Contact details

Headquarters:
811 Vermont Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20571
Telephone: 202 565-3946 (EXIM)
Toll-Free: 800 565-3946 (EXIM)
FAX: 202 565-3210
URL: http://www.exim.gov/

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 Export-Import Bank of the United States, "Mission", Export-Import Bank of the United States website, accessed June 2010.
  2. "Barack Obama: Bundlers", OpenSecrets.org, accessed July 2013.
  3. "US Ex-Im Bank May Fund Giant Coal Plants in South Africa, India" Sustainable Business News, August 11, 2010.
  4. "It’s Not Easy Being Green" Newsweek, July 16, 2010.
  5. "South African Coal Plant Wins U.S. Backing Over Environmentalist Protests" Mark Drajem, Bloomberg, April 14, 2011.
  6. "Ex-Im Bank Gives Preliminary Approval For $800M Loan To South Africa Power Plant" Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2011.
  7. "US Ex-Im Bank May Fund Giant Coal Plants in South Africa, India" Sustainable Business News, August 11, 2010.
  8. Max Ehrenfreund, "Environmentalists sue Export-Import Bank over loan guarantee to domestic coal broker," WaPo, July 31, 2-13.

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