Environmental Justice Groups Spend Taxpayer Money On Themselves

Millions of taxpayer dollars allotted to “environmental justice” funding are paying for the development of a rap song for elementary school students, paid vacations, Timberland boots, and catered meals, according to a congressional investigation.

Salaries, benefits, and staff travel were the biggest costs of environmental justice initiatives, according to The Washington Times.

Last year, the Biden EPA Chief requested funding to recruit hundreds of environmental justice bureaucrats, according to the Daily Caller. The price tag for the new hires came in at around $375 million.

Now a detailed report by the Republican minority staff of the Senate Budget Committee has found evidence the Biden administration funneled taxpayer money to inflate the bottom lines of left-leaning groups.

The funds were supposed to address environmental and public health concerns. Paying for staffers to go on trips, eat out, and enjoy a vacation in new boots doesn’t sound like it does much for the environment — quite the contrary.

Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Sen. Charles Grassley (R – IA) told the Times, “Climate change poses real challenges, but the EPA’s efforts to address climate issues through its 2021 environmental justice program don’t pass the smell test.”

“Obvious abuse of taxpayer dollars and faulty EPA oversight of grantees raise major concerns for this program and cast doubt on the agency’s fiscal responsibility.”

Phrases like “climate change” and “environmental justice” are the darlings of leftists who don’t like to have clear definitions of terms so they can be manipulated.

Nobody can argue that the climate doesn’t change or that the environment and justice aren’t important. But that doesn’t mean they should be sued as political slogans to amass taxpayer funding.

Some, like former GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy, have called climate change a hoax.

In 2021, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded $4.3 million to 34 organizations as part of a $50 million deal for “environmental justice” projects under the umbrella of Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.”

According to the Times, the EPA and the funding recipients have tried to keep Congress in the dark about how the money is spent, according to a report from The Times.

Grassley’s report shows how the grant recipients — eligible for up to $200,000 for specific environmental or public health objectives each — are spending taxpayer money.

The committee obtained financial records that indicate the majority of the funds have been used for staffing. This includes salaries, paid vacation time, health and retirement benefits, cell phones, and travel expenses.

In one example, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Wahington state budgeted more than 90% for staffing costs, including nearly $13,000 for paid vacations. The remaining 9.5%, was for supplies and materials.

Metro Community Ministries of Atlanta spends funds by presenting a PowerPoint and rap song and to elementary schools, community groups, and other organizations. They declined to disclose the associated costs.

Another grant recipient, The Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia, provided workforce training for pest management in underserved communities that included $1,057 in Timberland boots for trainees and $553 in catered meals.

All told the Biden administration has handed out nearly $2 billion more from the Inflation Reduction Act for environmental justice initiatives.

The problem is the administration can’t justify the expenditures. That’s not good for the environment of public trust.