The debate revolves around an entity called the
In December, as part of President
Multiple countries and international financial institutions have subsequently followed this model to put in place their own guidelines on energy-related funding.
“When it came to direct U.S. support, that policy change ended our ability to finance new coal plants, except in rare circumstances,”
“That was a historic step in curbing financing of the dirtiest and most outdated sources of energy. It was also one of the most significant pieces of progress we’ve had from this administration on fossil fuels.”
The agency did make exceptions for the poorest countries, however, allowing U.S. financing of coal projects in these countries if they use whatever is deemed the cleanest technology available. This loophole may now be significantly expanded to include many more countries, as part of a largely unrelated fight.
In recent months, conservative lawmakers here have seized on the institution, known as the
On the chopping block may be the new coal policies, offered as a sweetener to draw back conservative lawmakers in favor of re-approving the
Leading bipartisan compromise proposals in both the
“If we are truly committed to protecting our global environment, the U.S. should lead the world in clean coal technology and export that technology to the rest of the world,”
Manchin, a moderate Democrat from a coal-rich state, has reportedly proposed significantly expanding the number of poor countries that would be eligible for Ex-Im assistance around coal projects. Similar proposals are being worked on in the
Other lawmakers, too, have recently switched their views on the bank’s reauthorisation due to political pressures around coal. Presumably, a change on this issue could woo them to back the agency once again.
“[I]t is inappropriate to use the bank’s financing mechanisms to drive an ideological agenda rather than promote U.S. exports,”
Still, for some of the Ex-Im Bank’s most ardent critics, the attempt to link the agency’s re-authorisation to a weakening in its coal policies is not working.
“The Obama administration’s targeting of coal is absurd, but it is not important in the debate over the
“While some lawmakers and special interest groups want to talk about coal, the real issue is whether the Bank’s charter deserves to be authorized at all. Heritage Action believes it should be allowed to expire.”
The Ex-Im Bank’s new restrictions around coal would likely have a significant impact on overall U.S. support for such projects worldwide.
Of the agency’s massive budget – this year,
That’s been seen by some as a misalignment of priorities: even as coal plants in
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Ex-Im Bank’s new coal policy was controversial from the start – not only among some lawmakers but also, reportedly, among the agency’s management. Just weeks after the new requirements were voted in, lawmakers were able to pass a little-noticed legal provision that temporarily stayed the change through September.
The bank, meanwhile, has used this interlude to begin consideration of a massive and contentious coal-fired power plant in
“The Bank is in the process of conducting a full due diligence review of the financial, technical and environmental aspects of the project,”
Horning noted that no decision would be forthcoming on the project, known as Tilaiya, until next month at the earliest.
Environmental advocates, meanwhile, say the
“President Obama pushed for this new rule over the agency’s objections, and now we’re seeing them openly defy the president’s actions,” the Sierra Club’s Guay says.
“The agency operates under the president’s administration and is part of the push to fulfil his agenda. So to even have them consider this coal project is an example of them going rogue – directly flouting restrictions they never supported in the first place.”
He continues: “The administration and
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