NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Scratching My Back, Your Back At The EPA

March 25, 1996

It is not all that uncommon in Washington for a department or agency to give funds to private, nonprofit groups, which then spend the money to advocate and lobby for more funds for the granting agency. It is a merry-go-round paid for by the taxpayers, which some find disturbing to outrageous.

One of the most egregious agencies practicing this sort of scam is the Environmental Protection Agency, where tens of millions of dollars over the past several years have been channeled to nongovernmental organizations directly involved in political advocacy.

  • In fiscal years 1993 through 1995, the Environmental Defense Fund received over $1.8 million, and the Natural Resources Defense Council -- both environmental advocacy organizations -- got nearly $1 million more.
  • Both groups have attacked congressional efforts to reduce EPA funding and require federal agencies to examine the costs of public regulations.

NRDC has published numerous reports attacking Republican efforts to limit the regulatory power of the EPA.

  • During 1993-95, the American Lung Association and its affiliates received nearly $1.7 million in grants for such purposes as public outreach on indoor air quality issues, environmental education, and education-media outreach on EPA's controversial enhanced vehicle emission inspection-maintenance program.
  • Several states fighting the costly vehicle emissions testing program have found themselves also fighting the American Lung Association -- which staunchly defends it.

The independence of nonpartisan organizations can be undermined when they are enlisted as allies using EPA funds.

  • The EPA has funded the National Parent Teachers Association to produce a newsletter for members which would include "environmental buzz words."
  • An EPA memo on the project concluded that "the PTA could become a major ally for the agency in preventing congress from slashing our budget..."

Source: Jonathan H. Adler (Competitive enterprise Institute), "Environmental Protection Payoffs," Washington Times, March 24, 1996.


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