Ex-Im Bank joins Treasury in cutting coal plant funding

The U.S. Export-Import Bank is adopting new guidelines on coal-fired power plants based on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rules.

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The revised environmental procedures prevent financing for power plants unless they adopt carbon capture, allowing some flexibility with the world's poorest countries.

“The Bank engages in an important balancing act — in supporting our exporters, we have to weigh the potential impacts on the environment associated with our financing," Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of Ex-Im, said in a statement.

Hochberg justified the move by Ex-Im to align itself with President Obama's goal to cut carbon pollution by touting the number of jobs it has supported while also considering environmental costs.

“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,” Hochberg said.

“But America cannot do this alone. I strongly support the Administration’s efforts to build an international consensus such that other nations follow our lead in restricting financing of new coal-fired power plants.”

Ex-Im's policy change follows closely behind the Treasury Department's adoption of Obama's climate plan in its work with multilateral development banks on cutting financing for coal-fired power plants overseas.

On Friday, Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) bashed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the new policy, raising doubts about the carbon capture technologies required at overseas' power plants.

"Failure to assist these countries based on policies that the United States has not even established domestically for its own new plants raises questions about the administration's priorities and whether its actions comport with the long-standing policy of the U.S. to assist developing nations rise out of poverty," the lawmakers wrote to Lew in a letter on Friday.

They request a response from Lew by mid-January.