President Obama’s new climate program threatened by vote at US Export-Import Bank
Public interest organizations call on president to assure rejection of funding for coal plant
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of five environmental organizations, including Friends of the Earth U.S., have written to President Obama warning that he will fail the first test of his newly announced climate action plan if the U.S. Export-Import Bank votes to advance plans to finance a coal project in Vietnam. A key component of Obama’s climate action plan was a funding freeze on U.S. financing for coal-fired power plants abroad. The Ex-Im Bank vote is currently scheduled for this Thursday.
The Ex-Im Bank board will be voting on whether the climate impact of a heavily polluting coal plant abroad is acceptable, which would allow the federal agency to consider providing public financing for the project. The Thai Binh II coal plant in the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam is a 1200 MW project which would use outmoded subcritical boiler technology. Funding the plant would be a clear violation of both the president’s climate action plan and the Ex-Im Bank’s own environmental policy.
“This vote is the first crucial test of the president’s climate action plan,” said Damon Moglen, senior strategic advisor at Friends of the Earth. “The president made a clear commitment not to fund this kind of dirty, climate-destroying power plant abroad — now he needs to make sure that the board at the U.S. Export-Import Bank got the memo.”
The Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States and the principal government agency responsible for aiding the export of American goods and services. The Bank’s president, vice president and board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The five organizations writing to the president asking that he intervene in the Ex-Im Bank decision are: Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for International Environmental Law, Greenpeace and Pacific Environment. A 2009 lawsuit settlement with Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups required Ex-Im Bank to develop a Carbon Policy.