Export-Import Bank of the United States

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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]

Ex-Im Bank Finances 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.[2]

In 2009, the Ex-Im Bank settled a legal case brought against it by Friends of the Earth and others who claimed that the bank was providing financial assistance to fossil fuel projects without properly evaluating their climate change impacts. As part of the settlement agreement, the bank vowed to include an evaluation of CO2 emissions as part of the qualifications for future projects. But critics say that particular commitment appears to have fallen by the wayside as the bank continues to approve loans for coal plants.[3]

According to Pacific Environment: "FY 2011 was a record year for the U.S. Export Import Bank... Fossil fuel project financing rose to $4.9 billion, renewable energy financing rose to $721 million, and CO2 emissions rose to a staggering 68 million metric tons."[4]

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.[5]

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 US Ex-Im Bank Board was expected to take up a "due diligence" vote on Kusile by the end of 2010 - due to its 2009 settlement agreement in a Friends of the Earth case to include an evaluation of CO2 emissions as part of the qualifications for future loan projects - but decided to approved the coal plant loan.[6]

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.”[7][8]

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.[9]

On May 31, 2011, Eskom announced that the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) had given its initial approval for an $805 million (R5.78 billion) loan to help Eskom continue to build the Kusile Power Station in the Mpumalanga Province. The final vote on the Ex-Im Bank’s loan for Kusile is expected in approximately 35 days after a mandatory Congressional notification period.[10]

Ex-Im bank and coal exports

On May 30, 2012, Pennsylvania-based Xcoal Energy & Resources received final approval from the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a working capital guarantee to help the company boost shipments of coal to Japan, South Korea, and China. The coal will be used to fuel overseas steel plants. The loan was the first direct transaction for coal exports in at least five years for the Bank. Ex-Im Bank has not disclosed any environmental or health analysis of the impact of Xcoal’s sourcing of Appalachian coal.[11]

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. "US Ex-Im Bank May Fund Giant Coal Plants in South Africa, India" Sustainable Business News, August 11, 2010.
  3. Andreas Spath, "US To Finance Dirty Coal Power In South Africa" Care 2 Care, May 30, 2011.
  4. [pacificenvironment.org/downloads/Ex-Im%20Bank%20Fossil%20Fuel%20Financing.pdf "Ex-Im Bank Fossil Fuel Financing"] Pacific Environment, 2011 Report.
  5. "It’s Not Easy Being Green" Newsweek, July 16, 2010.
  6. "US Ex-Im Bank May Fund Giant Coal Plants in South Africa, India" Sustainable Business News, August 11, 2010.
  7. "South African Coal Plant Wins U.S. Backing Over Environmentalist Protests" Mark Drajem, Bloomberg, April 14, 2011.
  8. "Ex-Im Bank Gives Preliminary Approval For $800M Loan To South Africa Power Plant" Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2011.
  9. "US Ex-Im Bank May Fund Giant Coal Plants in South Africa, India" Sustainable Business News, August 11, 2010.
  10. Andreas Spath, "US To Finance Dirty Coal Power In South Africa" Care 2 Care, May 30, 2011.
  11. Anusha Narayanan, "Ex Im Bank Using US Taxpayer Money to Prop up Dirty Coal Exports from Appalachia," Sierra Club Compass, May 31, 2012.

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