(EnergyAsia, July 24 2013, Wednesday) — Environmentalists have hailed the US Export-Import Bank’s decision to reject financing the construction of a proposed coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.

The bank’s board voted last week to reject financing for the 1,200MW Thai Binh II coal plant in the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam.

“The Thai Binh II coal plant would use outmoded subcritical boiler technology, a violation of your Climate Action Plan and the Export-Import Bank’s environment policy. As such, this dirty coal plant will emit unacceptable air pollution that will worsen climate disruption and poison local communities,” said a joint statement by five environmental groups, which include Friends of the Earth (FOE), Greenpeace USA, Pacific Environment, Center for International Environmental Law and Center for Biological Diversity.

The groups wrote to President Barack Obama asking that he intervene to reject the project as “funding the plant would be a clear violation of both the president’s climate action plan and the Ex-Im Bank’s own environmental policy”.

Separately, FOE said it showed that the Obama administration is keeping its promise to fight climate change while the Sierra Cub said the decision means that Vietnam and other developing countries won’t be “saddled with the health and environmental costs of dirty coal.”

Damon Moglen, FOE’s senior strategic advisor, said:

“Friends of the Earth commends the Obama Administration for rejecting financing for this dirty power plant, and believe it bodes well for the implementation of the President’s ban on public financing for overseas coal deals.

“We urge Ex-Im and other government agencies to ensure that the spirit and intent of this commitment is upheld, and not weakened by fine print and loopholes. With this momentum, the president should now encourage these institutions to support investment in renewable energy, efficiency technologies and energy storage so as to assure that we have a real, clean 21st century energy future.”

Sierra Club International Climate Program Representative Justin Guay said the “decision to reject funding for a new coal plant in Vietnam clearly upholds the spirit of President Obama’s new Climate Action Plan.

“The President has made it clear that U.S taxpayer money should not be funding dirty, dangerous coal projects abroad, and we are hopeful that this vote is the first step in Ex-Im turning the corner on their record-breaking financing of dirty fossil fuels.

“Ex-Im should adopt a moratorium on financing for overseas coal projects, consistent with the President’s climate plan, ensuring that developing countries aren’t saddled with the health and environmental costs of dirty coal.”