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May 25, 2012

Ex Im Bank Using US Taxpayer Money to Prop up Dirty Coal Exports from Appalachia

Coal protest 1
Just days after securing a contentious reauthorization the U.S. Export Import Bank (Ex Im) is back to its dirty energy lending. Yesterday the Board of Directors, voted to finance U.S.coal exporter, Xcoal Energy & Resources. Ex-Im Bank has not disclosed any environmental or health analysis of the impact of Xcoal’s sourcing of Appalachian coal. However, mining practices commonly employed in Appalachia include extremely destructive mountaintop removal mining that destroys streams, poisons the water and air, and harms human health. The Ex-Im Bank must consider and disclose whether its financing of Xcoal supports these harmful practices.

The decision to finance a U.S coal exporter follows the Ex-Im Bank's long and sordid history of dirty coal investments abroad. Communities in India are still fighting the enormous Sasan project and its environmental, social, and economic degradation. This project was followed by the even larger and more controversial Kusile coal project in South Africa.

Now Ex Im Bank is bringing this destruction home in a decision that is simply not compatible with the direction the U.S. is going.  Demand for coal is at a 35-year-low as the devastating public health and environmental impacts are driving widespread grassroots opposition to new projects. Faced with these declines the industry is desperate to peddle its toxic wares in other countries in the face of sagging profits. Ex Im Bank is sadly all too happy to oblige and finance a bail out for this outdated and destructive industry with your tax payer money.

Sadly, we're not surprised. After the Ex-Im Bank's annual meeting it was clear they were still confused about which century they were in. The bank continually fights congressional mandates to increase its clean energy lending and fails to recognize the economic and employment opportunities that it can provide. This leaves us hopelessly behind in a clean energy race for a $260 billion global industry.  This industry creates employment opportunities, and sustainable economic growth.  

Rejecting new fossil fuel projects, especially coal projects, should be a no-brainer. U.S. tax payer dollars could be far better spent supporting clean energy exports – something Ex-Im has shown it can do. But callous investments like this clearly demonstrate that Ex-Im lacks vision, a commitment to clean energy, and accountability. All things congress should have mandated in reauthorization. Without it, it's quite clear Ex Im is committed to its destructive fossil fuel binge.

-- Anusha Narayanan, Sierra Club International Program

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