Manchin drops coal provision from Ex-Im Bank bill

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced his bill to re-authorize the Export-Import Bank's charter Wednesday evening without a controversial provision to roll back the bank's restrictions on financing overseas coal plants.

After initially pushing language of the bill with the provision, which blocks guidelines the bank implemented in December that prevent funding of coal plants abroad unless they adopt carbon capture technology, Manchin opted to propose the measure as a separate amendment.

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The change was likely a result of heavy pushback from liberal Democrats.

"If we are truly committed to protecting our global environment, the U.S. should lead the world in clean coal technology, which is why I am introducing an amendment that helps U.S. businesses export that technology to the rest of the world," Manchin said in a statement Wednesday.

Senators such as Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) strongly oppose the coal measure, but are advocates for re-authorizing the Ex-Im Bank.

Cantwell is now a co-sponsor on the clean bill Manchin introduced Wednesday evening.

Manchin will push the amendment to reverse the bank's financing restrictions when the bill comes to the Senate floor. Rather than mandating overseas coal plants adopt carbon capture, the measure requires that such projects use the "best commercially available clean coal technology" that is used by the U.S., allowing companies to export it.

The amendment will face strong opposition from Boxer and other liberal Democrats.

"It really will set the world back … and will lead to much worse climate pollution," Boxer said earlier this month.

The bank's charter is set to expire Sept. 30. Manchin's bill would re-authorize it for five years and increase the bank's spending authority to $160 billion from $140 billion over a four-year period.