As President Joe Biden and midterm leery Democrats continue to shift blame for the economic woes of the American people onto Russian President Vladimir Putin, a cursory look at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) grant program is all it takes to show the gross mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, meant for pandemic relief, being used to promote “environmental justice” and “green infrastructure.”
In late March, the EPA announced that they were accepting applications through their Office of Environmental Justice for the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program. In and of itself, the pervasiveness of woke ideals in the bureaucratic halls of the executive branch are bad enough. What makes this program worse is that the $1.6 million being doled out in 16 to 20 grants came from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP).
“For this single funding announcement, EPA is limiting eligible applicants to federally recognized tribal governments only,” the EPA explained, for up to $100,000, “to establish or modify public participation programs where fair treatment and meaningful participation priorities have been impacted,” so they say, “by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, a look at the 2021 iteration of this program where 99 grants were awarded at a cost of around $7.4 million, $5.25 million of which was derived from the ARP, pandemic relief was at best a tangential outcome for many of the non-profit organizations that benefitted.
In New Orleans, La., Teaching Responsible Earth Education (T.R.E.E.) was awarded relief funding to empower “school curriculum-integrated environmental education” through activities like “learning about the animal, mineral, and plant kingdoms and how they interact and depend on ecosystems.”
Speak for the Trees out of Watertown, Mass. won a grant for their project “Community Tree Stories,” which planned to develop a “series of community tree walks” to discuss “inequitable tree canopy cover,” the “intersections of environmental justices, clean air, and tree canopy cover.”
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) reacted to the details of these grants and told Fox News Digital, “I’m not surprised in the slightest the Biden administration is using pandemic relief funds to foot the bill for ridiculous initiatives like environmental justice, telling people not to eat fish, or other Green New Deal initiatives. They have no respect for taxpayers’ dollars and have made a mockery of addressing climate change with their woke agenda.”
And why should he be surprised after it was announced in July 2021 that City University of New York intended to wipe out student debt using their COVID relief funds and states across the country were using their federal dollars to give bonuses to school teachers.
The Towers Foundation in New Haven, Conn., was awarded a grant to revitalize a community garden for “low-income seniors, neighbors, and community partners” which sounds like a noble way of stating they got the government to fund a renovation to increase the value of a residential area.
There are dozens more examples that include “development of a regional electric vehicle charger installation plan” in North Carolina and support of the “Milwaukee Environmental Justice Roundtable” in Wisconsin that a spokesperson from the EPA claims were all highly vetted.
“These projects all went through a rigorous scoring and approval process to ensure project activities and goals align with our statutory authorities and the language and intent of ARP,” the spokesperson told Fox News Digital. The program “allows communities to implement solutions that can improve conditions related to COVID-19 such as air quality issues.”
As Daren Bakst, a senior research fellow with Heritage Foundation and energy expert told Fox News Digital, “COVID-19 relief money shouldn’t be some cover for the Biden administration to use taxpayer dollars to fund its far-left agenda and to indoctrinate people in environmental extremism. But that appears to be happening at the EPA. Taking community tree walks, teaching people how to prevent future marine debris, and similar funded projects have nothing to do with the pandemic.”
“Americans are being crushed by inflation rates not seen in over 40 years, thanks in large part to out-of-control federal spending,” Bakst went on. “If the Biden administration is genuinely concerned about low-income communities, it would stop its excessive spending, war on energy, and general regulatory avalanche that is hitting Americans hard – especially low-income communities – through skyrocketing prices.”
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