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February 20, 2013

Corruption Allegations, Monster Mine Madness, and the US Ex Im Bank

Despite President Obama's commitment to tackle climate change, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Exim) President Fred Hochberg continues to underwrite some of the world's largest and most destructive fossil fuel ventures. He has personally overseen financing for massive coal projects coal projects in South Africa and India. But the Bank has run up against a determined international resistance to its most controversial project to date – a pair of coal mega mine and export terminals that would ship millions of tons of coal through the Great Barrier Reef near Australia.

Greenpeace Australia dubbed one of these projects, Adani's proposed Carmichael mine, Monster Mine Madness. If completed, the mine would be Australia's largest ever, sucking up 10 billion liters of water and emitting 128 million tons of carbon pollution annually. That's more carbon than Sweden, Norway, and Denmark emit combined. To accommodate the enormous output of this mega mine, Adani is planning to expand its existing Abbot Point terminal and build two more ports to ensure the 60 million tons of coal can be dumped on international markets - after traveling through the Great Barrier Reef.

Now, Greenpeace Australia has uncovered new information on Adani's corrupt history in India (PDF), including a bribery scandal, illegal ore exports, illegal construction on private land, concealing and falsifying facts in application processes, and activity without environmental clearances. These shady practices resulted in the flooding of villages, massive losses in tax revenue, and the destruction of critical tiger habitat and mangroves.

Australian Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has called Greenpeace's revelations "serious" and insisted they must be investigated. Meanwhile, Greenpeace Australia and the Lock the Gate Alliance have uncovered evidence that Adani has already brought their illegal practices to Australia by starting to clear the Carmichael Mine site before acquiring approval from the government.

With evidence mounting that Adani is a corrupt company (PDF), and worldwide uproar to save the Great Barrier Reef, one would think that Fred Hochberg would keep Exim and our taxpayer dollars as far from the Monster Mine Madness as possible. But Hochberg has remained steadfastly determined to support outdated fossil fuel projects that should be regulated to the previous century. But with concerted international resistance, and White House leadership, Hochberg may yet surprise us and finally do the right thing.

-- Nicole Ghio, Sierra Club


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