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November 5, 2019

Barrasso Speaks on the Need to Fight Global Energy Poverty

“I’m concerned that the World Bank is now blocking affordable energy development, energy that’s needed to make a positive difference for so many people in the developing world.”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the Senate floor about the need to fight global energy poverty by pushing multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, to embrace – not exclude – affordable energy resources.

Senator Barrasso recently led a group of 12 senators in sending a letter to World Bank President David Malpass urging the elimination of barriers at the World Bank that restrict financing of traditional energy resources, such as coal, oil and gas.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“I come to the floor today to discuss the global fight to end poverty, and specifically the problem of energy poverty.

“The numbers paint a very grim picture. Worldwide 840 million people are living without electricity.

“They can’t cook or heat their homes safely or reliably.

“In fact, nearly 3 billion people, 3 billion people worldwide, still rely on wood and waste for household energy.

“So what should the United States do to help?

“Well first and foremost, I believe we should push multilateral development banks like the World Bank to invest in affordable energy projects which will help these people.

“The World Bank’s mission is to lift people out of poverty. To help lift people out of poverty, that’s their mission. Specifically, it seeks to end extreme poverty while promoting shared prosperity.

“So for 75 years, the United States has been working with the World Bank to help developing countries grow.

“The United States remains the World Bank’s largest contributor.

“Every U.S. dollar at the World Bank should make a difference for people in the developing world.

“The World Bank’s new policies, however, lead me to call for a review, a review by the United States, of how U.S. dollars are being used.

“Several years ago, the World Bank decided to stop financing certain projects, specifically oil, gas and coal projects.

“I’m concerned that the World Bank is now blocking affordable energy development, energy that’s needed to make a positive difference for so many people in the developing world.

“Traditional fuels are a vital tool for escaping energy poverty.

“Yet with the policy change at the World Bank, only renewable energy projects qualify for funding.

“It seems that the World Bank is putting liberal political agenda, it’s liberal political agenda, ahead of our anti-poverty mission.

“So the question is: Does the World Bank still want to help the people living in poor nations today? That’s the question.

“If so, they should be helping with the use of abundant and affordable energy resources. If not, then the United States must, I think, reevaluate our support for the World Bank.

“Here’s a case in point: The bank restricts the financing of high-efficiency
power stations fueled by coal.

“Last fall, for example, the World Bank failed to honor its commitment to the country of Kosovo. The bank pulled its funding from Kosovo’s state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant. State-of-the-art, needed in Kosovo.

“Kosovo faces an energy-security barrier to growth. They don’t have enough energy to grow the way they are prepared to do. Kosovo has the fifth-largest coal reserves in the world, and Kosovo desperately needs to retire its older facility.

“Now, I saw this firsthand last month when I was visiting members of the Wyoming National Guard who are stationed in Northern Kosovo.

“This decision by the World Bank is simply unacceptable. So what are other countries doing? China and Russia, meanwhile, are dramatically increasing their global investment in identical carbon based energy projects.

“So the World Bank is saying go ask China. Go ask Russia.

“These include lower standards, they include dependence on these countries. and undue political influence. A number of members of the Senate share my concern.

“On Thursday, I led a dozen senators in urging the World Bank to immediately lift these harmful restrictions.

“My letter to the president of the World Bank, President David Malpass was co-signed by Senators Boozman, Capito, Cotton, Cramer, Cruz, Enzi, Hoeven, Johnson, Kennedy, Murkowski and Thune.

“Together we are pressing the World Bank to recommit to an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

“Developing countries desperately need affordable, reliable energy.

“And as we say in our letter: ‘People living in poor and developing nations want and need a stable energy supply. They are looking for power generation that provides energy security, helps create jobs, and improves their lives.’

“People back home in Wyoming know firsthand the benefits of developing abundant energy resources.

“The United States is a top global energy producer. Wyoming has played a key role in this success.

“We have produced our way to a booming U.S. economy.

“And we’ve created millions of new jobs along the way.

“People who are struggling worldwide to survive and thrive in developing countries deserve that same opportunity.

“As an energy powerhouse, America can help empower our allies and our energy exports.

“As global philanthropist Bill Gates has said: ‘Increasing access to electricity is critical to lifting the world’s poor out of poverty.’

“Ultimately, the solution to energy poverty doesn’t lie in limiting options, but in using all available options.

“In pursuit of its mission, the World Bank must embrace, not exclude, affordable energy resources.

“Let’s work together to end energy poverty now for the 840 million people on the planet living without electricity.”