In a Tuesday hearing on Capitol Hill, Republicans in the House Energy and Commerce Committee attacked the EPA for awarding grants to foreign countries under the Clean Air Act.
“There is nothing in the Clean Air Act directing the EPA to send tax dollars abroad, and the American people would not be pleased to know we are subsidizing foreign projects at a time when millions of Americans are out of work and the national debt just eclipsed $16 trillion,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, said in his opening statement.
According to Upton’s testimony, the EPA has doubled the money it hands out to foreign countries with nearly $12 million dollars in foreign grants given out in 2009. Almost $22 million was given in 2010 and a further $28 million was handed out in 2011.
“This is a disturbing trend that won’t stop unless we do something about it,” Upton remarked.
Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky said that $50 million in foreign grants were given in 2010 and 2011 alone.
“The American people sent us to Washington to clean things up and this is just one example of where we can all agree — that this money should be spent here at home rather than in China or Indonesia,” Whitfield said in his opening statement.
Some of the projects outlined by the committee include a grant $141,450 to China to study swine manure. Another $305,849 to the Science and Technology center in the Ukraine to retrain former Newly Independent States (NIS) weapons scientists.
Over $400,000 was given to Indonesia for the “Breathe Easy Jakarta” program for urban air quality management and a further $1,226,841 to the United Nations for clean fuel promotion.
“We can’t maintain our roads, bridges and domestic programs, but yet we have money to give China to study swine manure,” Whitfield said. “Something doesn’t smell right in this situation.”
Craig E. Hooks, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, rebutted Republican criticisms in the hearing.
“While the EPA’s investment in international grants is comparatively small, these grants play an important role in protecting the health and environment of American citizens,” Hooks said in his testimony.
“They support cooperation with other nations in reducing emissions of transboundary and global air pollutants affecting the United States, thereby increasing the nation’s environmental protection. They also serve broad foreign policy interests,” he added.
Some of the grants were given to countries that were among the largest holders of U.S. Treasury securities, including China, Russia, and Brazil.
China is the largest foreign holder of Treasury securities, holding more than $1.1 trillion. Brazil holds nearly $243 billion and Russia holds nearly $158 billion.
“Part of the reason the United States is now over $16 trillion in debt is because the federal government has little spending discipline,” testified Daniel Simmons, Director of Regulatory Affairs at the Institute for Energy Research.
“Compared to $16 trillion, these grants are small, but the grants are symptomatic of out-of-control spending by the federal government,” Simmons continued.
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