NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EPA Finances Anti-sprawl

April 6, 2000

The legal authority of the Environmental Protection Agency over urban land-use planning is tenuous at best. Yet under two grant-making programs -- the Transportation Partners program and the Smart Growth Network -- the agency gives millions of dollars to nonprofit lobbying groups to build public support for the war on sprawl. With the support of these organizations, the EPA hopes to use federal funding and regulatory authority to dramatically change the lifestyles of most Americans.

A few of the grants went for what might be considered legitimate work to solve congestion and air pollution problems. But most went to organizations whose sole purpose is to lobby federal, state or local governments or to provide assistance to other groups doing such lobbying.

  • Since 1995, the EPA has given more than $6 million to anti-automobile groups with the goal of reducing vehicle travel.
  • Groups seeking to redesign cities and suburbs to force people to consume less land have received more than $2 million in grants in the past three years.

This funding by the EPA subverts local public input by creating the appearance of a grassroots movement against sprawl when in fact much of the "movement" is supported by a federal agency seeking increased funding and power over local governments.

Source: Peter Samuel and Randal O'Toole, "Smart Growth at the Federal Trough: EPA's Financing of the Anti-Sprawl Movement," Policy Analysis No. 361, November 24, 1999, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 842-0200.


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