EXCLUSIVE: GOP Lawmakers Demand Answers From Biden Admin On Massive Grants For ‘Environmental Justice’ Program

(Photo via Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

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Nick Pope Contributor
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Republican lawmakers wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan on Wednesday to demand answers about one of the agency’s “environmental justice” grant programs.

Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Buddy Carter of Georgia, two leading members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote to Regan to request that his agency brief the committee about its $600 million Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program. The lawmakers raised specific concerns about some of the organizations the agency selected as awardees for the program, to whom the agency is giving tens of millions of dollars to distribute to other organizations pursuing “environmental justice.”

“We question whether some of the selectees and their partner organizations, based on the public record of their activities, can be trusted to fulfill the role of an objective pass-through steward of taxpayer funds,” the lawmakers wrote. “The use of the ‘pass through’ grant structure and the activities eligible for funding underscore concerns about entrusting these organizations with handing out federal funds.” (RELATED: ‘The Swamp Is Getting Deeper’: EPA Awards Billions From Biden’s Landmark Climate Bill To Orgs Loaded With Dem Insiders)

House E+C Letter to Administrator Regan by Nick Pope on Scribd

The EPA announced the 11 awardees for the program in December 2023, giving ten organizations $50 million and $100 million to another to use to support other groups in the region advancing “environmental justice,” a concept that has played a large role in the Biden EPA’s regulatory, grantmaking and enforcement agendas. “Environmental justice” is effectively the by-product of climate policy and social justice ideology.

The lawmakers expressed concerns that some of the recipients and partner organizations, including the Climate Justice Alliance and the Institute for Sustainable Communities, have previously spent money to advance a partisan energy agenda or worked with groups who have sued the government to block fossil fuel development.

A recent Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found that two organizations in one of the awarded coalitions are “immigrant justice” activist groups that have worked to boost voter turnout or civic engagement.

Additionally, the lawmakers questioned the geographical location of some of the awardees relative to the location of regions they are supposed to serve with the grant funds. The legislators highlighted several awardees that are not located in the region they are supposed to serve, and also pointed out that 18 partner organizations named as awardees are outside of the designated regions they are meant to support with sub- grants.

“We note that EPA has structured the program to avoid triggering important single audit requirements, further reducing accountability. The Phase I: Assessment, Phase II: Planning, and Phase III: Project Development structure has award amount limits of $150,000, $250,000, and $350,000, respectively,” the two lawmakers wrote. “Understanding the caps for sub-grants will mean most awards are likely to fall under the single audit $750,000 annual threshold, it is difficult to see how the EPA will ensure appropriate monitoring of awards.”

The lawmakers concluded their letter to Regan by requesting that he and his agency brief the committee to explain how recipients were chosen, detail the agency’s oversight plans, explain whether the EPA intends to report the use of the funds to Congress and whether the agency will report the recipients of sub-grants.

The EPA did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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