US House Science, Space, and Technology leaders raised concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). Environment Subcommittee Chairman Max Miller and Investigations and Oversight Committee Chairman Jay Obernolte wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan about potential unfair advantages granted in GGRF awards.
The GGRF was intended to act as a “national green bank” that would allow the EPA to directly inject $27 billion of taxpayer funds into individual organizations to finance clean energy projects. Yet, in April, the EPA announced an entirely new framework, in which GGRF dollars would instead be distributed to a small handful of politically aligned nonprofit organizations to distribute the funding themselves.
“Our concerns regarding this unusual setup were recently elevated when we were informed that current EPA political appointees have direct ties to these organizations and held multiple pre-grant announcement meetings with them,” Miller and Obernolte wrote. “It appears that the EPA intends to unilaterally redesign a $27 billion program in order to funnel multiple multi-billion dollar awards to the Administration’s political allies by designing grants specifically for organizations for which EPA appointees previously worked.”
In addition to the potential ethical violations with this new setup, Miller and Obernolte raised concerns with the process itself. “Industry and Congress assumed that the EPA would act as it and other government agencies always have when it came to awarding grants – doing it themselves through a public, meritorious process,” they wrote. “Instead, long after the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, the EPA announced that it would outsource its congressionally delegated duties to unelected officials.”
Not only does this contradict Congressional intent, but it also creates practical problems. “EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board and Office of the Inspector General have both noted that no one organization currently in existence is known to have the experience or qualifications necessary to accept billions of dollars and then re-award those funds to sub-grantees. Because of this, it is expected that many of these politically aligned nonprofit organizations will join together, becoming mini-green banks that provide money to themselves and force their agenda onto the American people. It is clear that the inability to find a single qualified organization to award and track grants makes the EPA’s plan more difficult and will create numerus oversight concerns,” Miller and Obernolte wrote.
The Chairmen requested the EPA respond with documents by January 19, 2024.