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December 07, 2012

Ex Im Bank: New Dirty, Controversial Coal Plant? Where Do We Sign Up?

CoalContinuing its efforts under Chairman Fred Hochberg to direct as much U.S. taxpayer money as possible to dirty climate destroying coal projects with devastating social and environmental impacts, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Exim) Board of Directors discussed financing the controversial Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine in Mongolia at its meeting last week. This is the very same project the World Bank Group is already under heavy criticism for considering.

But wait, you say, that doesn't sound like a coal plant...

That's what the World Bank, and Ex-Im Bank, would like you to believe. But tucked into the investor agreement is a requirement to construct a new 750 MW coal-fired plant to power the mine after four years. But since the coal plant is an "associated facility," the World Bank didn't bother to follow its coal policies. Instead it failed to convene an expert panel to screen the project because they might realize that low carbon alternatives exist. You know, like when the New York Times highlighted this very same project as ripe for wind development.

Civil society is rightfully quite angry at the World Bank. Not only for this blatant attempt to avoid the rules, but because the project is already facing a complaint from local herders whose access to clean water, livelihoods, and culture are endangered by the project.

But alas, like a moth drawn to a flame, Ex-Im appears eager to use Oyu Tolgoi to increase its already outrageous fossil fuel portfolio. The internal thought process from Ex Im Bank President Fred Hochberg may have gone something like this: "New climate destroying coal plant needs finance; where? How much? Climate be damned, we're happy to do it!"

Why are we so rough on the guy? Take a look at his institution's record breaking fossil fuel portfolio. While the U.S. State Department is at the Climate Negotiations in Doha this week touting the $2.3 billion in fast-start finance it claims to have provided developing countries to combat climate change, Ex-Im provided $10.4 billion in financing for fossil fuel projects in 2012 alone. All of that finance despite having a 'low-carbon' policy. Right.

So take a moment today to tweet at Fred Hochberg (@FredHochberg) and Exim (@EximBankUS) and let them know that they should help grow clean, renewable energy instead of using our tax dollars to wade into yet another heaping pile of coal scandal. Tell them it's courtesy of us @Sierra_Club.

-- Justin Guay, Sierra Club International; and Nicole Ghio, Sierra Club Campaign Liaison

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