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Coalition Tells U.S. Export-Import Bank: Don’t Use U.S. Dollars To Finance Coal Project That Threatens The Great Barrier Reef


Today, a coalition of scientists, business owners, Australian elected officials, and civil society groups from the U.S. and Australia -- including the Sierra Club and  Friends of the Earth U.S. -- sent a letter to U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) Chairman Fred Hochberg calling on the Bank to reject any proposal to finance Adani’s massive Carmichael coal mine and associated railways and export terminals in Australia. If completed, coal from Australia’s Galilee Basin will be mined and transported by rail to the coast, where it will be shipped overseas through ports expanded by dredging three million tonnes of seabed from the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Reports indicate that Ex-Im is considering financing the project with U.S. tax dollars, contradicting the spirit of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and recent climate progress both in the U.S. and abroad.

“The Great Barrier Reef is under considerable threat from a variety of stressors including climate, crown of thorns sea stars, and run off from land,” said Dr Selina Ward, a prominent Queensland Reff scientist at the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences. “The Abbot Point port expansion would considerably exacerbate this pressure. This continuing industrialisation of the GBR coastline invites reef degradation, especially from the dredging of the ocean floor, the dumping of the dredge spoil and enormous increase in carbon emissions from the proposed coal mines.”

The recent January 31 election in the State of Queensland saw the biggest swing against a first term government in Australia since 1955. Many Queenslanders rejected the sitting government due to their support for the Galilee Basin coal mines and associated port facilities and their impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. The Greens achieved their highest ever Queensland election result, and Labor is now forming a government, after that party pledged to prevent any dredge spoil from being dumped in the World Heritage Area or nearby wetlands and to reverse the billions in tax breaks and tax dollar support the previous government promised Adani.

“Queenslanders clearly do not accept the government’s destruction of the Reef,” said Greens Senator Larissa Waters of Queensland . “The Queensland Government’s plans to industrialise the Reef threaten to destroy one of the most precious places on earth, through dredging, shipping and climate change. We call on the U.S. Ex-Im Bank to reject any requests for financing of the Abbot  Point expansion or associated rail and mine infrastructure. U.S. taxpayer dollars should not be subsidising the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.”

And while Ex-Im is considering backing the project, major financial institutions -- including Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Credit Agricole, and JPMorgan Chase -- have publicly rejected the proposal not only for jeopardizing the Reef’s World Heritage status, but because reports show the project is not financially viable.

On top of that, this decision by Ex-Im would come on the heels of significant U.S. climate leadership domestically and abroad. But progress - including the U.S.-China emissions reduction deal, a $3 billion commitment to the Green Climate Fund, and recent climate and clean energy progress in the President’s FY2016 budget - would be undermined by Ex-Im financing the Carmichael project.

“Chairman Hochberg should refuse to provide financing to any project that would harm the precious Great Barrier Reef,” said Friends of the Earth U.S. President Erich Pica. “To do otherwise would contradict President Obama’s call to protect this special place for his daughters and grandchildren and his State of the Union address, at which he called climate change the biggest threat to future generations.”

“The fact is that this disastrous project would damage a world treasure like the Great Barrier Reef while making our climate crisis even worse. The notion that Ex-Im would use American taxpayer dollars to support it is unconscionable,” said John Coequyt, director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Program. “If the Export-Import bank puts a single U.S. dollar towards funding this project, it is literally financing the destruction of one of the great natural wonders of the world.”  

Signers of the letter include:

Kirsty Albion, Co-Director, Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Sue Arnold, Coordinator, Australians for Animals

Darren Kindleysides, Director, Australian Marine Conservation

Paul Oosting, Projects Chief of Staff, GetUp!

Blair Palese, CEO, 350 Australia

David Ritter, CEO, Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Ellen Roberts, Coordinator, Mackay Conservation Group

Wendy Tubman, Coordinator, North Queensland Conservation Council

Julien Vincent, Lead Campaigner, Market Forces

Cam Walker, National Liaison Office, Friends of the Earth Australia

Glenn Walker, Acting CEO, The Wilderness Society Australia

Lindsey Allen, Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network

May Boeve, Executive Director,

Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club

Leda Huta, Executive Director, Endangered Species Coalition

Alex Levinson, Executive Director of Pacific Environment

Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth -- U.S.

Kierán Suckling, Executive Director, Center for Biological

Kathryn Kelly, Documentary Director, The Inertia Trap

Keith Roberts, Business Owner, Whitsunday Catamarans, Sailing Whitsundays, and KDR Investments

Helen Sheehy, Manager, Southern Cross Sailing Adventures and
Australian Tall Ship Adventures, Airlie Beach

Ken Sharpe, Business Owner, Aqua Dive, Airlie Beach

Asher Telford, Business Owner, Tongarra, Airlie Beach

Steve Edmondson, Owner Operator, Sailaway, Port Douglas

Dirk Werner-Lutrop, Director, Diverson Dive and Travel, Cairns

John Edmondson , Director, Wavelength, Port Douglas

Heather Batrick, Owner Operator , Yongala Dive , Ayr

John and Linda Rumney, Owners, Eye to Eye Marine Encounters, Port

Heidi Taylor, Managing Director, Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Port

Sandra Williams, Treasurer, Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping,
Airlie Beach

Deborah Brown, Owner, Airlie Beach Travel and Tours, Airlie Beach

Tony Brown , Owner, True Blue Sailing, Airlie Beach

Jan & Peter Claxton, Owner/operator, Ocean Safari Cape
Tribulation, Cape Tribulation

Tony Fontes   Director, Order of Underwater Coral Hereos
(OUCH), Airlie Beach

Professor Terry Hughes, Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University

Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy, Energy and Resources Group and
Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

Dr Selina Ward, School of Biological Sciences, University of

Senator Christine Milne, Senator for Tasmania

Senator Scott Ludlam, Senator for Western Australia

Senator Janet Rice, Senator for Victoria

Senator Lee Rhiannon, Senator for New South Wales

Senator Rachel Siewert, Senator for Western Australia

Senator Larissa Waters, Senator for Queensland

Senator Penny Wright, Senator for South Australia

Senator Richard Di Natale, Senator for Victoria


Read the letter here.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit

About Friends of the Earth U.S.

Friends of the Earth fights to create a more healthy and just world. Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them. Visit to learn more.


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