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Review of Public Bank Projects Weakened, Green Groups Say; Leahy Faults Bush Administration for Reduced Oversight
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Development banks; Environmental impact
Author: Grimaldi, James V
Date: Sep 19, 2002
Start Page: A.25
Section: A SECTION

Critics contend federal officials are subverting the intent of 15- year-old federal legislation requiring U.S. taxpayer-supported lenders -- such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank -- to review the environmental impact of their loans. While some blame President [Bush], others say the trend started under the Clinton administration.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the committee that funds the banks, criticized the Bush administration for reducing environmental oversight on the projects. "Instead of cutting funds, downgrading offices and eliminating professional staff, it should be strengthening these programs and supporting people who have scientific expertise," Leahy said.

Environmental groups are critical of lending by U.S.-subsidized banks, which include the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and African Development Bank. The groups contend these public agencies back projects -- oil and gas wells, dams, pipelines and logging -- that accelerate the destruction of fragile, diverse and dwindling ecosystems.

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