The Great Barrier Reef in Danger
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is home to a tremendous array of endangered species, some found nowhere else in the world. Renowned for its beautiful corals and water clarity, the reef was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area in 1981. Several reef species, including dugongs and loggerhead and green sea turtles, have been listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
But this vast reef, with its incredible wildlife and rare seagrass habitat, is now at risk — from the U.S. government.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank, which finances development projects worldwide, has approved $5 billion in American financing for the construction of two massive liquefied natural gas plants in Queensland, Australia. The facilities will be built within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, eliminating seagrass habitat and increasing tanker traffic across the reef by 13 percent. Dredging and dumping for these facilities have already created a 20-mile sediment plume, ever creeping closer to world-renowned coral reefs and dive spots. Strandings of endangered dugongs and sea turtles have skyrocketed, while local fishermen’s catch has plummeted due to contaminated sediment in the waters. The only profiteers from this project are its Big Oil proponents — ConocoPhillips and the Chinese state-run oil company Sinopec.
Yet the U.S. Ex-Im Bank funded these controversial fossil fuel projects without applying U.S. environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. These laws require all U.S. agencies to evaluate each project funded, regardless of where it occurs, and to avoid impacts on protected species and World Heritage Areas like the Great Barrier Reef. The Center has filed a lawsuit to challenge Ex-Im’s Australia funding and to establish that all U.S. agencies must comply with U.S. standards and before funding destructive projects worldwide.
|Great Barrier Reef photo courtesy Flickr/The.Rohif||HOME / DONATE NOW / SIGN UP FOR E-NETWORK / CONTACT US / PHOTO USE /|