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Challenging Federal Financing of Coal Exports from East Coast Ports

Case Number # 2427

Environmental groups, represented by Earthjustice, have filed the first-ever lawsuit challenging the federal government’s financing for the export of Appalachian coal from the United States. The U.S. government approved this financial support for coal exports without considering the increased toxic air and water pollution that could affect communities near the mines and ports, and along the railways that connect them.

The CSX coal export and processing facility in Baltimore, MD.  (Imagery (c) 2013 Google)
The CSX coal export and processing facility
in Baltimore, MD. (Imagery © 2013 Google)

The groups filing the lawsuit charge that the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) violated federal law by providing a $90 million loan guarantee to Xcoal Energy & Resources without reviewing the environmental impacts as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to Ex-Im Bank, the taxpayer-backed financing, approved on May 24, 2012, will help leverage a billion dollars in exports of coal mined in Appalachia. The coal will be shipped from ports in Baltimore, Maryland and Norfolk, Virginia to markets in Japan, South Korea, China and Italy.

While U.S. coal consumption has declined gradually over the past 10 years, U.S. coal exports have risen. The array of air, water, safety, health, biodiversity, and other impacts on local communities and ecosystems—which face a chain reaction of increased mining, rail traffic, and port activity—remains woefully unaddressed by state and federal regulators.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Center for International Environmental Law, Friends of the Earth, Pacific Environment, Sierra Club, and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy filed the suit, and are represented by Earthjustice. The plaintiffs are asking the court to order Ex-Im Bank to prepare an environmental impact statement for the Xcoal loan guarantee. If successful, the case could also require the agency to conduct environmental review of future coal export projects it considers financing.

Press Releases

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Suit charges taxpayer-backed U.S. Export-Import Bank with failure to assess environmental impacts of its dirty-fuel exports