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Environmental Group Opposes Funding for Power Plant, New Jobs in WI at Stake


MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WTAQ) - Environmentalists are trying to kill U.S. funding for a massive power plant in South Africa that could bring new jobs to Wisconsin.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank will decide in 3 to 6 months whether to provide partial financing for a $19 billion coal-fired plant in South Africa. If it’s approved, one of Milwaukee’s two makers of mining equipment is expected to get a $120 million contract.

But the Friends of the Earth say the bank should end a “fossil fuel binge” and reject the project. Bucyrus International says the mine will need a huge drag-line.

And Bucyrus and Milwaukee’s Joy Global dominate the market for that equipment. Bucyrus CEO Tim Sullivan says the project would mean jobs for Milwaukee, no matter which firm is selected. Joy Global says it’s talking with officials in South Africa about the project, but it’s not commenting further.

The power plant would be one of the largest in the world. Environmental groups say it would spew out tons of toxic arsenic, mercury, and greenhouse gases.

This is the 2nd time in a year Bucyrus is part of a dispute involving the Export-Import Bank. Last summer, the bank rejected funding for a power plant in India. It would have cost Bucyrus over 1,000 jobs, but the bank later changed its mind and approved the financing.