Washington, DC – By encouraging the Export-Import Bank to provide 10 percent of its financing capacity to promote the export of clean energy products and services the House has taken an important step toward enacting an intelligent, forward-looking policy that will increase American competitiveness in the rapidly growing global green energy market. It will also provide enormous environmental benefits at the same time.
Having supported more than $400 billion dollars of U.S. exports during the past 70 years, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) is one of the most powerful tools at the U.S. government’s disposal for spurring innovation and economic growth. In the 1990s, a similar provision encouraged Ex-Im to do more work with small businesses, who at the time were receiving very little support. Today, more than a quarter of Ex-Im’s total authorizations are dedicated to small businesses, easily exceeding the original targets.
A similar process can and will occur with clean energy. Former Chief World Bank Economist Nicolas Stern has argued that the world’s growing energy demands could create a $500 billion annual market for clean energy by 2050, and the United States should act today to insure that U.S. businesses are poised to seize this growing opportunity. Yet the Ex-Im Bank continues to provide vast support for traditional fossil fuel projects while neglecting to develop our clean energy business sector. In FY 2006, Ex-Im promoted $1.8 billion worth of traditional fossil fuel exports, but only $9.8 million in renewable energy exports. It is worthwhile to try to shift this ratio in favor of the industry that has the greater growth potential and will maximize return on investment: clean energy.
We at the Center for American Progress have been strong supporters of this policy and others that are good for U.S. businesses and good for the environment. In the years to come, we will need many such “win-win” ideas, and I offer my congratulations to the House for putting our country on the right path.