Ex-Im Bank Happy To Help Vietnam Produce Energy – Just Not Coal

In theory, the Export-Import Bank of the United States exists to increase the export of American-made products; in reality though, it exists to export the Obama Administration’s global warming agenda.

There is ample evidence.

The Bank used American taxpayers to guarantee hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of loans for solar technology in India and the Ukraine in 2012.  It doesn’t matter that solar energy is embarrassingly less productive than coal when taxpayers are left holding the bag.

A statement from Fred Hochberg, who was recently confirmed to his second term as Bank president, expresses the banks “readiness to help finance Vietnam’s infrastructure development in key sectors such as… renewable energy and other types of power.”  But the Ex-Im Bank’s board of directors just voted not to proceed with financing U.S. exports to help build a coal fired power plant in Vietnam:

The decision was made after a “careful environmental review” of the 1,200-megawatt power plant.

The Bank’s website explains that for transactions classified as Environmental Category A[1], the Ex-Im Bank requires that the applicant for the Ex-Im Bank’s review forward an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The Bank considers all “fossil fuel” projects, especially coal, “projects that may significantly affect the quality of the human environment of the U.S., its territories or possessions, or Antarctica,” and requires adherence to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review procedures for all fossil fuel projects.  The NEPA requires that applicants produce documentation for an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).

Heritage explains the burdensome and flawed nature of the NEPA:

The NEPA process is costly, time-consuming, and riddled with conflict. The statute ignores the limits of environmental science and enables bureaucratic self-interest to determine actions and judicial activism to distort policy. The environmental impact statement process is grounded in the notion of the environment as static and predictable, and fails to account for the complex nature of ecosystems. Even under the assumption that bureaucrats have the expertise to complete scientifically sound environmental assessments in a timely manner, agency personnel have exhibited biased decision making—ignoring information that does not comport with the prevailing view of the agency’s mission, for example.

To be clear, the Ex-Im Bank should not even exist.  It is an affront to the free market and a tool for cronyism.  But it is unsurprising that the Bank supposedly considers Vietnam a key market, and this loan guarantee was still denied.  It just wouldn’t fit well with the Left’s global warming agenda because it would lead to job creation and be a boon to the Vietnamese economy.

It is likely that the Ex-Im Bank has the ostensible goal of reducing CO2 emissions to moderate “global warming” and other negative social impacts – as defined by leftist government bureaucrats.  But remember, CO2 is a colorless, odorless, nontoxic gas and a byproduct of, or necessary nutrient for, all living organisms on Earth, so the EPA should be denied the authority to regulate it.  They may be well intentioned, but the burdensome process they impose is anything but helpful.

Again, the Ex-Im Bank should not be in the business of giving taxpayer guaranteed loans to politically favored companies.  But we should ask: if this had been a windmill or solar panel loan, would the decision have been different?  It probably would.  Though, neither of those would have produced much energy or financial benefit for Vietnam.

[1] According to the Ex-Im Bank website, Category A projects can include crude oil refineries (excluding undertakings manufacturing only lubricants from crude oil) and installations for the gasification and liquefaction of 500 tonnes or more of coal or bituminous shale per day.


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