Federal Export Bank Limits Coal Plant Financing

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2,1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground.
National Journal
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Ben Geman
Dec. 12, 2013, 12:54 p.m.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States vowed Thursday to restrict financing for construction of overseas coal-fired power plants, a move that’s part of a wider Obama administration policy against aiding carbon-intensive coal plants abroad.

The Ex-Im Bank’s board adopted guidelines that largely prevent financing unless a plant will use carbon capture and storage technology.

“Without guidelines or limits, ever-increasing numbers of new coal plants worldwide will just continue to emit more carbon pollution into the air we breathe,” said Ex-Im Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg in a statement.

The Ex-Im policy has an exception for coal plant projects in the world’s poorest nations — if no other economically feasible alternatives exist and if the plant will use the most efficient technology available.

The export credit agency’s policy is consistent with the White House climate plan released in June that calls for an end to public financing of coal plants overseas, except in the types of cases outlined in the Ex-Im guidelines.

The Ex-Im plan follows the Treasury Department’s October announcement of how it intends to work with multilateral development banks on the anti-coal plant policy.

The World Bank, for its part, is also imposing new limits on support for coal plant construction.

The Ex-Im Bank provided over $2 billion in financing for coal plants between 2010 and 2013, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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