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Import-export bank backs out of loan; Milwaukee jobs at risk

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UNDATED (WSAU) Wisconsin’s political and union leaders are pressuring the U-S Export-Import Bank to reverse a loan decision that could cost a Milwaukee firm up to a-thousand jobs. The bank rejected loan guarantees last week for a new coal-fired power plant in India.

And the move could nullify the utility’s purchase of $600-million in mining equipment from Milwaukee’s Bucyrus International. An unnamed bank official told the Journal Sentinel that it’s looking for a way to keep the project moving forward, while considering its environmental impact and the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. He also questioned whether a-thousand jobs were really at stake. U-S Senator Russ Feingold said the power plant will still be built if the loan guarantees are not restored – but the company will look to China instead of Milwaukee for its mining equipment.

Feingold and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett were among those pressuring the bank and the White House to reverse the decision. Barrett also said he would talk to President Obama about it when he visits Racine tomorrow. The head of the United Steel-workers of America wanted his members to show up in force at Obama’s town hall meeting, and to stage a letter-writing campaign to the bank.

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