Special Report: U.S. Coal Plant Financing Policy – A Threat To Long-Term U.S. Interests In The Developing World

The role of the federal government in the international financing of coal plants has become controversial in recent years. Some policymakers as well as environmental activists oppose the use of any public funds for any overseas coal plant, including highly-efficient units, while some fiscal conservatives want an end to all government financing of exports and projects. At the same time, the developing world is seeking financial assistance from the United States and other major economies to provide basic electricity access, which is indispensable to poverty eradication and improvements in environmental quality and health care. Current U.S. policy—backed by a number of European countries—places unrealistic conditions on power generation projects in developing countries. As a result, other nations, some of which openly seek to displace U.S. influence, are moving to fill the gap, putting at risk long-term U.S. interests. Ironically, U.S. policy, if adopted by major Western suppliers, would result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions as developing countries deployed older, less efficient coal technology from non-OECD sources.

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George David Banks is Executive Vice President at the American Council for Capital Formation. He is an economist, political consultant, and policy advocate, focusing on energy, environment, and trade. Banks has published reports and opinion editorials on a variety of policy issues, including climate change, civil nuclear power, and energy markets and trade. He is also a fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a member of the ClearPath Foundation’s advisory board. Most recently, he served as President Donald Trump’s Special Assistant for International Energy and Environment at the National Economic and National Security Councils – a position that required him to manage workstreams related to his portfolio across the federal government.