WASHINGTON (US) – Under intense pressure from environmental and human rights groups and members of Congress, today the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) of the United States voted to reject financing for the controversial $1.6 billion Camisea Gas Project in Peru. The Ex-Im loan would have provided $213 million for the venture led by Hunt Oil and PlusPetrol. Ray Hunt, Chairman of Hunt Oil, is a Bush Pioneer Fundraiser raising $100,000 for the 2000 Presidential elections.
“Two Ex-Im Board members displayed courage and environmental leadership in the face of considerable pressure,” said Jon Sohn, international campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Friends of the Earth applauds Ex-Im’s decision to deny U.S. taxpayer support of Camisea and the massive environmental destruction it would cause.”
Camisea is already scarring the Peruvian Amazon and affecting the Nahua-Kugapakori Reserve-home to previously uncontacted and isolated indigenous populations. Groups are also concerned about an export terminal for Camisea that will also be built in the Buffer Zone of the Paracas National Marine Reserve, Peru’s only marine sanctuary for endangered birds and mammals.
Recently a letter was sent from 13 U.S. senators to the U.S. Treasury Secretary – the agency that directs U.S. voting decisions at the Inter-American Development Bank – and the head of the Ex-Im. The letter opposes public support for Camisea at this time, and echoes the concerns of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who also sent a letter.
The key issue at Ex-Im was the refusal of the Peruvian government and companies involved to loosen 2004 gas delivery deadlines to avoid a continuing pattern of negative, irreversible environmental and social impacts. The Inter-American Development Bank is slated to take up the project next week and the position of the U.S. board will determine approvals at that Bank.
“We hope this sends a signal to export credit agencies in Europe that the U.S. government is committed to international environmental standards,” said Sohn.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Jon Sohn, Friends of the Earth: +1- 202- 412-2467 or +1-202- 783-7400 ext. 231
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