Vaca Muerta fossil fuel development in Argentina. Image via BNamericas.

One Disaster After Another: Will EXIM Chairman Reed Ever Learn?

by Kate DeAngelis, international finance manager

The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of fossil fuel markets and underscored some of the worst impacts of the fossil fuel industry.

In addition to Pemex, EXIM also recently approved a $82.9 million line of credit for YPF, an Argentinian oil and gas company. EXIM failed to produce any environmental and social impact assessment for the deal, claiming that this financing was not for any specific project that could be assessed. But EXIM’s own announcement indicates otherwise, stating that the financing will be for “upstream and downstream activities, including equipment, materials, and services.” And in February of this year EXIM announced its support for YPF “to be utilized in development of the Vaca Muerta Formation.” Unless Reed thinks oil and gas magically comes out of the ground by itself, she clearly knows EXIM’s support will be used to develop specific upstream and downstream projects in Vaca Muerta — in the absence of the required environmental and social impact assessment.

How many more people need to die and how many more livelihoods must be ruined before Chairman Reed learns that EXIM should not support fossil fuel projects?

As evidenced in a 2015 EXIM Office of Inspector General report, the project has demonstrated consistent negligence in complying with proper safety precautions. The project developers also failed to follow internationally accepted practice for project-affected community consultation. These safety concerns lead to a complaint being filed at EXIM in 2015, but EXIM decided that Sasan’s safety regime had improved even though it obviously had not. According to numerous media reports, ash from the coal plant has caused severe air pollution, harming nearby crops and increasing the risk for various respiratory health conditions like asthma. The long history of fatalities and public health risks associated with the project demonstrate a clear lack of adequate safety measures. Regardless, under Reed’s direction, project fatalities continue to mount, yet EXIM maintains its support for Sasan. The only public statement Reed has made on the debacle was in response to Congressional questioning, and even here her answer was only to say that the agency had met with Friends of the Earth and a couple other groups. As if one mere meeting was sufficient to address the loss of lives, livelihoods, and homes. Recently, Reed has traveled all over the world, but has failed to visit Sasan despite the dire need to ensure further deaths don’t occur there. Preventing loss of life at EXIM-supported projects is obviously not a priority for Reed.

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Friends of the Earth U.S. defends the environment and champions a healthy and just world. www.foe.org

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Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth U.S. defends the environment and champions a healthy and just world. www.foe.org