Republicans are targeting wasteful and “egregious” spending at the Environmental Protection Agency, issuing a new report showing the agency has lost millions to employee scams, lax oversight and wasteful research projects.
A report released by Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake found numerous examples of EPA mismanagement and excess, including employees illegitimately spending $15 million on agency credit cards and $9 million the agency lost track of funding projects in California.
The report found the agency spent “$3,500,000 to fund ‘Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health’ workshops across the country… $1,500,000 annually to store out-of-date and unwanted publications at an Ohio warehouse” and another “$700,000 to attempt to reduce methane emitted from pig flatulence in Thailand.”
Sen. Flake’s report also points out another big-ticket spending item: the EPA spent $40,000 on a portrait of former Chief Administrator Lisa Jackson — who resigned in early 2013 amid a transparency scandal.
“For an agency keen to regulate every puddle from a rainstorm, the EPA has proven itself remarkably inept when it comes to managing its own affairs,” Flake said in a statement.
Flake’s report comes as the EPA rolls out new environmental regulations and prepares to finalize rules to fight global warming next year. Republicans have vowed to fight back against the slew of agency regulations when they take control of the Senate next year.
But even with Republicans in control of both congressional chambers, President Obama is unlikely to sign any legislation rollin back his climate agenda — especially as the United Nations climate summit nears.
In light of this, some Republicans have suggested targeting EPA’s funding as a way to force the agency to stop issuing new air and climate rules. Flake’s report takes aim at wasteful spending at EPA to highlight areas where Republicans could maybe trim some spending.
“After years of handing out blank checks in the form of omnibus appropriations bills and continuing resolutions, it’s time for Congress to return to regular order and restore accountability at the EPA,” Flake said.
The latest case of EPA mismanagement comes from eight employees who were paid $1.1 million in salaries while not working because they were placed on administrative leave. An EPA inspector general report last month found that each employee “was on extended administrative leave for four or more months” and that “four of the eight employees” were on leave for more than a year. Fox News reports that three of the employees found to have taken salaries while on leave are no longer at EPA, but the agency has not disclosed why the employees left.
Even before the discovery of employees being paid while on leave, former EPA employee John Beale was convicted of stealing nearly $900,000 from taxpayers while pretending to be a CIA agent. Beale’s theft was discovered by agency officials in 2013 after he had been paid his salary for months despite being retired.
“If we can’t trust them with the relatively small things, how can they expect to be trusted with the kinds of monumental things they are reaching for (which many of us oppose in the first place)?” Flake asked in his report.
The EPA did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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