Rep. Huffman Introduces Bill to Stop Spending Taxpayer Dollars on Dirty Energy Projects Abroad

May 29, 2014

WASHINGTON­—Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) introduced a bill that would prevent the United States Export-Import bank—one of the world’s largest sources of public financing for fossil fuel projects—from financing polluting energy projects. Since 2007, the Export-Import Bank provided more than $7.2 billion in financing for coal-fired power plants around the world—all backed by American taxpayer dollars. Huffman’s bill would end all subsidies for dirty energy projects that do not comply with greenhouse gas standards being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which President Obama is expected to unveil in the coming days.

“If we’re serious about fighting global warming, we need to ensure that our government isn’t working at cross-purposes with itself—we can’t build a clean energy future at home while dumping billions of American dollars into dirty coal boondoggles abroad,” Congressman Huffman said. “Leading colleges across the country are divesting from fossil fuel investments, and the United States government should show the same leadership.”

Export-Import financing for fossil fuel projects reached a record $9.6 billion in fiscal year 2012. This was almost double the 2011 total spending on these projects, and five times the funding in the final year of the Bush administration. In recent years, the Export-Import Bank has provided:

  • $900 million in financing for the 4,000 megawatt Sasan coal-fired power plant in India.
  • $800 million in financing for the 4,800 megawatt Kusile coal-fired power plant in South Africa. One recent report suggests that 35 new coal mines will be required to fuel this and South Africa’s other new coal power plants under construction.

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, released in June 2013, called for an end to U.S. government financing of coal projects overseas unless they included carbon capture technologies or if no feasible alternative existed. In December 2013, the Export-Import Bank outlined new guidelines aligned with the Climate Action Plan that would have restricted financing for overseas power plants that did not meet these standards.

However, earlier this year, House Republicans changed the law and prohibited the Export-Import Bank from implementing these guidelines. Huffman’s bill would support the President’s Climate Action Plan and reverse this harmful law.

Huffman’s bill is endorsed by the Sierra Club and Earthjustice.