NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

ENVIRONMENTALISTS PLAY POLITICS

January 11, 2005

Many environmental groups are tax-exempt IRS registered 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, meaning that contributions to these groups are tax deductible. Yet all of these nonprofit groups are also closely associated and fund their affiliated 501(c)(4) lobbying organizations and 527 political groups, says Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

These groups profess to be the greatest stewards of the environment and solicit contributions from a variety of sources by that claim, Inhofe added. But they demonstrate more interest in hyping apocalyptic environmental scenarios to raise money for raw Democrat political purposes, rather than working together to improve our environment for the benefit of all Americans, says Inhofe.

A new report by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), provides examples of how activist groups such as the League of Conservation Voters (LVC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Environmental Defense are blurring the lines between non-partisan environmental concern and attempts to sway election results:

  • The Heinz Endowments, with Theresa Heinz Kerry sitting as a board member on the board of directors, has donated almost $3 million to environmental activist groups since 1998.
  • In 2004, the Sierra Club endorsed Kerry for president along with 16 Democratic Senate candidates, but no Republican candidates.
  • The NRDC has received $2.6 million in taxpayer money from the Environmental Protection Agency, which may indirectly subsidize political activities.

Based on an earlier oversight hearing, the Committee also has released a 30-page report on the mismanagement of EPA grant dollars by such organizations. Among the concerns the report raised: EPA's failure to require grant recipients to demonstrate real environmental benefits from grants; its failure to require competition in its grant awards; and the failure of EPA grant officers and recipients to oversee grants and the activities funded by them.

Source: Gretchen Randall, "Senator Exposes Partisan Environmental 'Charities' in Floor Speech," Heartland Institute, January 6, 2005; Report to the Chairman Senator James M. Inhofe, "Political Activity of Environmental Groups and Their Supporting Foundations," U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, September 2004; and Report to the Chairman Senator James M. Inhofe, "Grants Management At The Environmental Protection Agency A New Culture Required To Cure A History Of Problems," U.S. Senate Environment And Public Works Committee, September 2004.

For SEPWC report

http://epw.senate.gov/repwhitepapers/PoliticalActivityofenvironmentalgroups.pdf

For SEPWC report

http://epw.senate.gov/repwhitepapers/Grants.pdf

 

Browse more articles on Environment Issues