White House Watch

‘Highly Irregular’: Biden EPA Invited Well-Connected Green Groups To Chat About $20 Billion Fund, Emails Show

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met with several organizations connected to EPA and Biden administration officials to discuss a program that will shell out $20 billion worth of grants for environmentalist goals, according to emails obtained by government watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust.

The EPA hosted a November 2022 meeting with groups like the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Center for American Progress (CAP) to “provide early feedback” and “ask clarifying questions” about the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), the emails show. Many of the groups invited have employed current EPA and Biden administration officials, and could be among the competitors for the grants, according to Protect the Public’s Trust.

“Whatever you think about the policy, any agency disbursing $20 billion in taxpayer funds should have the humility to ensure that the process is above question. Holding a chummy meeting with special interest organizations with deep connections to political leadership isn’t a good look,” Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, said of the discovery.

The GGRF was established by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), President Joe Biden’s signature climate bill. The timing of the early meeting about the EPA’s request for information, about 11 months before the applications are due in October of this year, is “highly irregular,” Protect the Public’s Trust said of the November 2022 meeting.

“As Protect the Public’s Trust has shown time and again, EPA ethics under this administration have been extremely lax – particularly when it comes to the ‘revolving door’ between many of these same environmental groups and the agency,” Chamberlain said. “The result is that the American public has little trust that their money won’t be going to benefit friends and cronies of agency appointees with little to no oversight.”

The EPA plans to split up the GGRF pot into anywhere from two to 15 grants when the funds are eventually awarded, according to the NRDC. The agency said that it would not disclose non-public information about the programs, in accordance with its internal policies designed to prevent unfair advantages, in the email inviting the environmentalist groups and think tanks to the meeting.

John Podesta, who serves as a special adviser to Biden and is tasked with distributing billions of green dollars from the IRA, established the left-wing Center for American Progress in 2003 before chairing Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign. Gina McCarthy was the president of the NRDC for about a year before stepping down to serve as Biden’s White House climate adviser until she left that position in September 2022, about two months before the November meeting.

Numerous high-level political appointees and staffers in the EPA have also worked for Sierra Club, NRDC, Earthjustice and the League of Conservation Voters, all of which were also invited to the November 2022 meeting in question, according to Protect the Public’s Trust.

An August poll by Gallup indicated that more than 50% of Americans have a negative perception of the Biden administration’s ethics. Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in January 2021 that the Biden administration vowed to be the most “ethically vigorous administration in history.”

The White House, EPA, Sierra Club, NRDC, Earthjustice and the League of Conservation Voters all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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Nick Pope

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