President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has doled out nearly $25 million to foreign nations and entities — including many countries with terrible environmental track records through 135 separate grants.
Officials at the EPA defend the awards to international organizations and foreign governments since 2009.
"Our limited international investments are focused where we can have the biggest environmental protection return," EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison tells The Daily Caller News Foundation. "International grants allow the U.S. to engage internationally and address serious trans-boundary and global environmental problems affecting the public health and environmental quality of the US and its citizens."
International grants represent less than one percent of the agency’s annual grant-making total, she says.
"The Obama administration views climate change with such religious fervor they are turning EPA bureaucrats into global climate change missionaries armed with foreign aid grants," Open The Books founder Adam Andrzejewski tells TheDCNF.
"It matters how EPA is spending taxpayer dollars and our oversight of the agency’s grants and grant management is ongoing," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton tells TheDCNF.
Upton’s committee discovered in 2011 the EPA was sending millions of tax dollars overseas
and also prompted a 2015 investigation into the agency’s grant oversight.
"A September report from the nonpartisan watchdog Government Accountability Office (GAO) sounded the alarm that EPA lacks an effective strategy to address grant management," the Michigan Republican says. "As we move forward, EPA must address the problems identified in the GAO report and follow their recommendations."
Russia and China are the largest recipients of EPA grants when excluding international groups, such as the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Health Organization (WHO), according to TheDCNF analysis of more than 100,000 grants.
Tied for the largest foreign grant is a $1 million award to a Washington state-based Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to reduce black carbon emissions from diesel sources in the Russian Arctic. Russia is nearly finished building a large military base in the region, but a laboratory spokeswoman says the project didn’t examine military vehicles, TheDCNF previously reported.
The other $1 million grant was awarded to the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) to manage a program that finances "Arctic Council projects
addressing mitigation of black carbon emissions from diesel combustion," according to the EPA.
"NEFCO finances green growth investments
and projects primarily in Russia, Ukraine, Pelarus, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as climate projects across the world," according to the institution’s website.
Those $1 million grants tie PNNL and NEFCO as the third biggest EPA recipients among international organizations. Those two grants alone also equate to almost half the foreign grant spending by EPA under Obama’s predecessor, President George W Bush.
The U.N.’s Environmental Programme and WHO are the top recipients, collecting $2.1 million and $1.5 million, respectively, according to TheDCNF analysis.
When international organizations are included, Switzerland rakes in the most EPA grant dollars with $1.8 million.
Of the 13 EPA grants to the country, 12 went to either WHO or a U.N. program. The remaining grant – worth $190,000 – was awarded to the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China to "strengthen China’s capacity to improve performance in five areas of environmental management," including air and water.
It’s unclear why the grant listed Switzerland as the "recipient country."