Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and City of Boulder Team Up to Bring Suit

Washington, August 27, 2002 – Friends of the Earth (FoE), Greenpeace and the City of Boulder, Colorado filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of their members and citizens who are victims of global warming. The suit has been filed against two U.S. government agencies – the Export Import Bank (ExIm) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Ex-Im and OPIC are taxpayer funded agencies that provide financing and loans to U.S. corporations for overseas projects that commercial banks deem too risky.

This legal action – the first of its kind – alleges that OPIC and Ex-Im illegally provided over $32 billion in financing and insurance for oil fields, pipelines and coal-fired power plants over the past ten years without assessing their contribution to global warming and their impact on the U.S. environment as required under key provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires all federal agencies to conduct an environmental assessment of programs and project specific decisions having a significant effect on the human environment; however, according to the complaint, OPIC and ExIm have refused to review their programs’ and fossil fuel projects’ contributions to global warming under NEPA.

FoE and Greenpeace members involved in the suit include a North Carolina couple who fear their retirement property will be lost to storm surges, erosion and the rising sea level; one of the largest maple syrup producers in Vermont who believes his business will be ruined as maple trees disappear from the area; and a marine biologist whose life’s work is in jeopardy because coral reefs he has spent a lifetime studying and enjoying are disappearing at an alarming rate due to bleaching from rising ocean temperatures.

“We’re nervous about climate change-if we have no maples, we have no farm income and the value of our land will be devastated,” said FoE/Greenpeace members Arthur and Anne Berndt. Regarding the state of the coral reefs off the Florida Keys, FoE member Dr. Phillip Dustan said, “It’s tantamount to visiting Sequoia National Forest and finding 90% of the trees either dead or on the ground.”

FoE, Greenpeace, and the City of Boulder view this suit as a critical first step toward compelling the Bush administration to take action against global warming, and to protect people from its dangerous effects. After the city council voted to join the lawsuit, Boulder Mayor Will Toor said, “All of the work that the city of Boulder does to maintain the quality of life for our residents will be negatively impacted by the detrimental effects of climate change. We believe that this lawsuit is one way force the federal government to start paying attention to this critical issue.”

Mark Helm, Friends of the Earth, Director, Media Relations, 202-783-7400 x102
Gary Skulnik, Greenpeace Media Officer, 202-319-2492
Amy Mueller, Acting Director of Public Affairs, City of Boulder,303-441-3005
Ron Shems, Attorney for the plaintiffs, Shems Dunkiel & Kassel, PLLC 802-860-1003
Outside Legal Expert for Comment: John Echeverria, Georgetown University Environmental Law Institute Executive Director, 202-662-9850 x3