More Potential for $27B Greendoggle at EPA
- October 12, 2023
‘Green Bank’ officials have close ties to the Biden administration
Ethics watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust is again raising questions about Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to dole out the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), the $27 billion it received as part of the “Inflation Reduction Act.”
As PPT reported earlier, the initial plan to establish a “National Green Bank” to dispense the money for environmental projects was shelved in favor of dispersing the funds through eligible nonprofits, which could include state, local, nonprofit, and other types of green banks. Nearly three-quarters of the funds will go to “nonprofit financing entities” under two programs, the $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund and the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator. Green banks associated with state, local, Tribal, and other government entities could also be eligible for the $7 billion Solar for All program that constitutes the third leg of the GGRF.
With the always-spinning “revolving door” between EPA and prominent environmental groups, the risk is high that there could be well-connected insiders on both sides of the grant equation. As PPT warned back in May, many high-ranking political appointees at EPA are former employees of groups that could be applying for grants. Last month PPT discovered from agency emails that EPA officials invited a group of environmental activist organizations and thinktanks to a November 2022 meeting to “provide early feedback on the RFI and ask clarifying questions” – a highly irregular move.
The cozy relations could continue. So-called “green banks” are eligible to apply for at least two of the three programs. And some of them are just as well-connected to the government as other environmental organizations.
For instance, at the DC Green Bank, CEO Trisha Miller recently served as Senior Director in the White House Domestic Climate Policy Office; Bank Board Member Deborah Loomis is currently a presidential appointee, serving as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Navy for Climate Change; Board Chair Brandi Colander is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior as well as former Deputy General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Associate Director of Investments Shiva Patel recently served as a senior fellow with The Solutions Project, an advisor to the Justice40 Accelerator, another Biden administration project to direct federal funds to “marginalized, underserved” communities. Further, Montgomery County (MD) Green Bank Board Member Jon Monger was an Assistant Deputy Administrator in Biden’s EPA, Connecticut Green Bank President and CEO Bryan Garcia serves on the Advisory Board for Energy Secretary Granholm, and Executive Director of the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority (Hawai’i’s Green Bank), Gwen Yamamoto Lau, is a member of EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board. While it’s not known at this time whether any of these institutions will be competing for GGRF funds, these are precisely the types of connections the public should be on the lookout for among the eventual grantees, sub-grantees, and others who may end up on the receiving end of these programs’ financial pipelines.
“Top to bottom, the implementation of GGRF is an ethical minefield,” Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain said. “With $27 billion dollars sloshing around, the American public should be on high alert for waste, fraud, and abuse. This is especially true in light of the incestuous associations of Washington’s regulators and prominent environmental special interests, the revolving door at EPA whirring fast enough to power a small city, and the seemingly never-ending incidents of lax ethics enforcement PPT has exposed at agencies such as EPA and DOE.”