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For Immediate Release, March 11, 2010

Contacts:  Miyoko Sakashita, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 632-5308
Doug Norlen, Pacific Environment, (202) 465-1650
Teri Shore, Turtle Island Restoration Network, (415) 663-8590 x 104

Suit Launched to Challenge Federal Financing of Foreign Fossil Fuel Project

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity, Pacific Environment, and Turtle Island Restoration Network have notified the U.S. Export Import Bank of their intent to sue the federal agency for financing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Papua New Guinea without analyzing the project’s environmental impacts.

“If we are going to address global warming, the United States needs to stop funding new fossil fuel projects,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead, taxpayer dollars are financing an immense natural-gas project with adverse impacts on wildlife and habitat.”

The Export Import Bank approved $3 billion to ExxonMobil and partners to develop an LNG project in Papua New Guinea — the largest transaction in the bank’s 75-year history. Shortly after pledging to reduce fossil fuel subsidies at the G20 conference in 2009, the Obama administration gave this record-breaking LNG funding. Today, President Obama will address the Export Import Bank’s annual conference.

“Export Import Bank’s $3 billion subsidy to ExxonMobil runs afoul of climate change concerns, and will also cause damage through illegal harm to endangered wildlife,” said Doug Norlen, policy director at Pacific Environment. “This ecological damage adds to other local impacts including growing human rights concerns.”

Today’s notice challenges the Export Import Bank’s failure to analyze the impacts of its project on endangered wildlife in violation of the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The LNG project will be the largest industrial development in Papua New Guinea producing natural gas for overseas markets. The development will cut through rainforest, mangrove, and coral-reef habitat with harmful impacts on biodiversity, including endangered sea turtles and marine mammals. Also, the project will produce than 3 million tons of CO2 every year in direct emissions.

“The leatherback sea turtles at risk from this LNG project in Papua New Guinea are critically endangered, and they are the same turtles that migrate thousands of miles to forage in the waters off the U.S. West Coast,” said Teri Shore, program director for Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Sea turtles risk losing important habitat and also being struck and killed by vessels shipping fossil fuels overseas.”

Export Import Bank has 60 days to correct the violations described in today’s notice letter before the conservation groups may file suit in federal court.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Pacific Environment is a non-profit organization based in San Francisco that protects the living environment of the Pacific Rim by promoting grassroots activism, strengthening communities and reforming international policies. For nearly two decades, we have partnered with local communities around the Pacific Rim to protect and preserve the ecological treasures of this vital region.

Turtle Island Restoration Network is an international marine conservation organization headquartered in California whose 10,000 members work to protect sea turtles and marine biodiversity in the United States and around the world.

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