Senators, Energy CEOs Call for Long-Term Extension of Export-Import Bank

In bipartisan effort, Cantwell, Manchin, Graham and Kirk highlight Ex-Im Bank’s role in supporting U.S. energy industry jobs and exports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined representatives of U.S. energy companies to call for a long-term extension of the Export-Import Bank and highlight how the Bank helps American companies meet the world’s energy needs and supports national security.

The “Ex-Im Bank” is a financing tool that helps American companies export their products or services. It backed nearly 150 transactions related to foreign energy development in 2013, amounting to more than $7.7 billion in value and supporting more than 46,000 American jobs.

The Ex-Im Bank supported $37 billion in total U.S. export sales and 205,000 jobs.

Failing to pass a long-term extension of the Ex-Im Bank also would put U.S. companies at a disadvantage against countries such as China and Russia as they compete for contracts on international energy projects. A short-term extension doesn’t provide certainty for companies bidding on longer-term projects such as a pipeline, construct a wind turbine, or develop a nuclear facility.

“We want to make sure that the Ex-Im Bank, which is about to expire in 14 days, doesn’t turn out the lights on American energy jobs. That’s why we want a long-term extension of the Export-Import Bank,” Cantwell said. “Whether it’s equipment for power plants in sub-Saharan or wind turbines in Central America, these global markets provide rich opportunities for American companies to expand their products and create jobs at home.”

“The Export-Import Bank supports more than 205,000 American jobs and generated $37.4 billion in U.S. export sales last year by providing loans, guarantees, and insurance services to help U.S. companies sell their products overseas,” Manchin said. “In order to make sure our businesses remain competitive in a global marketplace and boost economic prosperity here at home, it is vital to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. I also still believe that there is hope to pass a long-term extension that would give our businesses the certainty they need to continue securing deals in the international market. It is my sincere hope that Congress can come to its senses and vote on allowing this important federal credit agency to continue to help our American business community.”

“Without the Ex-Im Bank, Illinois businesses like Boeing that keep money and jobs in the state will lose to foreign competitors who refuse to play fair - companies like Comac in China, which is currently spending $29 Billion of Chinese government funds to build the 737's next major competitor, the C919,” Kirk said. “When Americans fly, they should fly on American planes.”

“Why in the world would we shut down our Ex-Im Bank when China is growing theirs?” Graham said.  “In 2011, the Chinese export credit agency financed more than the United States, Germany, Canada and Great Britain combined.  The Chinese would strongly support the United States closing our Ex-Im Bank.  So would the French, the Canadians, and the British.  If you really want to give the American economy a punch in the gut, shut down our Ex-Im Bank and allow other countries that compete with us to keep theirs open.  Like Ronald Reagan, I believe in ‘Trust but Verify.'  But I see no evidence that competitor nations like China, Japan, India, and France are getting out of the Ex-Im business and I don’t believe in unilateral disarmament.”

The Ex-Im Bank has supported transactions involving fossil fuel exploration and production and electric-power generation and transmission. The latter includes nuclear generation, renewables such as solar and wind, and smart-grid technology deployment. The senators were joined by representatives ranging from large companies such as Westinghouse Electric Company to FirmGreen, a California-based company with 165 employees that develops biogas technology. FirmGreen CEO Steve Wilburn said his company had already lost contracts to foreign competitors due to uncertainty over the Ex-Im Bank.

The Ex-Im Bank also serves as a foreign policy tool because it supports infrastructure projects that help stabilize countries in the developing world. The Ex-Im Bank also is a key player in President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, through which it has worked with other U.S. agencies toward the goal of doubling access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Participants Itron and Combustion Associates Inc. are working toward that goal now. Combustion Associates, a small business out of California, relies heavily on Ex-Im to get export contracts signed, CEO Kusum Kavia said.

The Bank also promotes national security by ensuring American companies that specialize in nuclear power facilities are on equal footing with Russian competitors in bidding on international projects.

“Our technology is the most advanced, safest and reliable technology in the world,” said Marv Fertel, President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute. “Exporting it actually provides tremendous benefits here in this country – it creates tens of thousands of jobs, helps thousands of companies, big, small and in-between, and it also brings in tens of billions of dollars. But it exports our safety culture too, which will make those plants safer. It enhances all of our non-proliferation regime because we’re in-country. We don’t have boots on the ground like soldiers but we have boots on the ground like workers and we’re there for a long time helping them.”

“One of our companies, Holtec International, says it will not be able to build fuel storage equipment for a new facility in the Ukraine unless they can get a loan from the Ex-Im Bank for $300 million.” Fertel said. “That would mean 200 jobs here if Holtec doesn’t get that, but maybe more importantly, that means Ukraine would have to depend on Russia for handling their nuclear waste and fuel over there while we can’t do that.”

The Ex-Im Bank’s charter is set to expire Sept. 30, and unless Congress acts, it will be forced to end its assistance to American companies. The Bank is required to conduct an environmental review of all transactions greater than $10 million. Its charter authorizes the Bank to grant or withhold financing after considering the potential environmental effects of goods and services.

The Export-Import Bank is self-supported through interest payments and fees, turning a profit for the U.S. taxpayer. In 2013, the bank transferred $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury.