WASHINGTON, June 20, 2019— Legislation introduced today by Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for seven years while leaving unchanged the bank’s structure and environmentally damaging purposes.
Over the past 12 years, the Export-Import Bank has provided funding for more than 160 fossil fuel projects, including coal, oil and gas power plants, mines and pipelines. Over the same period, it has only funded 15 solar power projects and seven wind energy projects. Today’s legislation only requires that the bank allocate five percent of its loans each year to renewable energy projects — less than what the bank has done in the past 12 years.
The bank continues to fund other environmentally damaging projects, including large-scale mines, even when they threaten wildlife or World Heritage sites.
“It’s extremely disappointing that Chairwoman Waters and House Democrats are supporting this big bucket of money for dirty fossil-fuel projects that harm our climate,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Export-Import Bank has left a trail of environmental destruction and harms poor people nearly everywhere it goes.”
Even though the Export-Import Bank is fully funded by American taxpayers, the bank does not comply with most U.S. environmental laws and provides virtually no real opportunity for the public to provide input on the projects it considers funding.
Congress has repeatedly altered the bank’s mandate over the course of its history to ensure it furthers American interests. Lawmakers, for example, have prohibited funding that may benefit terrorist organizations. But Congress has not addressed the environmental impacts of the bank’s activities.
“As the climate crisis deepens, it’s lamentable that Congress can only make the most paltry improvements here,” said Hartl. “If the Export-Import Bank can’t function without wreaking havoc on the environment, it should be scrapped and relegated to the trash heap of history.”