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FIRST ON FOX: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has spent $4.3 million from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on environmental justice and climate change programs promoting activities such as tree planting, “pruning workshops” and achieving “greater acceptance of trees” in cities.
Last April, the EPA announced it was awarding $200,000 each to dozens of projects “focused on the impacts of COVID-19, as well as climate and disaster resilience” in “underserved communities.” through its Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement Program (EJCPS). . The program awarded a total of 34 organizations using $4.3 million in Biden’s U.S. Bailout Act (ARP) funds, as well as $2.5 million from the EPA’s annual credit for environmental justice.
An Indianapolis-based organization called Keep Indianapolis Beautiful received $200,000 for an initiative called “Greening Urban Neighborhoods” that included educating residents about “the benefits of trees” and increasing “the acceptance of trees in the city”.
Another organization, Tree New Mexico, based in New Mexico, received funding from ARP to plant trees in the “underserved area of Albuquerque’s southeast quadrant.” This project included “pruning workshops” and “tree care education” with the goal of having more residents become “citizen tree stewards committed to caring for newly planted trees and older trees” and reduce the “heat island effect” that occurs in urbanized areas. areas.
THE EPA HAS SPENT $7M FROM THE U.S. BAILOUT FUND TO REPLACE DIESEL SCHOOL BUSES WITH ELECTRIC BUSES
The Houston-based Black United Fund of Texas has received ARP funds through the EPA program for a project to develop “a shipping container farm, residential gardens, green technology, planting of native trees and habitats, workforce development and public education”.
According to the EPA’s website, St. Paul, Minn.-based Hourcar also received ARP-funded EJCPS funds to launch “Evie carshare, a new all-electric carsharing program featuring 150 shared electric vehicles supported by 70 curbside charging stations, with a focus on serving low-income and BIPOC communities.”
The USASpending.gov website, which documents government spending, says the $200,000 in ARP funds for the grant were “compulsory.”
Just before Democrats passed the ARP in March 2021, without any Republican support, Biden described every allocation of funds in the legislation as essential.
“We need Congress to pass my US bailout plan which addresses the immediate crisis – the emergency,” the president said at the time. “Now the critics are saying my plan is too big, it’s $1.9 trillion. So that’s too much. Well, let me ask them: what would they make me cut? What would they make me omit?
Today, the ARP faces increasing scrutiny for its role in the ongoing inflation crisis, which hit 8.6% last month. Some economists, including former economic advisers to the Obama administration, have accused the ARP of overheating the economy.
“With our nation in the $30 trillion hole and money hemorrhaging federally, news like this should outrage all taxpayers,” Rep. Ralph Norman, RS, told Fox. .C., who sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. News Digital in a statement. “These examples are not proper functions of government and are just the tip of the iceberg. The EPA – and I would argue every agency – must be held accountable for how it uses public funds.”
Fox News Digital previously reported that the EPA also used $5.25 million in ARP funds through its Environmental Justice Small Grants Program in 2021 to award grants to projects that had next to nothing. to do with the fight against COVID-19 or the effects of the pandemic.
One of the nonprofits that received a grant under this program was Massachusetts-based organization Speak for the Trees for a project using “storytelling” and “tree walks.” , among other techniques, aimed at “increasing awareness and dialogue around inequitable tree canopy cover.” and its implications for the health of residents living in [environmental justice] communities. »
Clean Air Carolina, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, received a grant for a project to install a Level 2 electric vehicle public charging station and create an educational video as a way for “members of the community to get involved in mitigating air pollution”.
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In a statement provided to Fox News Digital on Wednesday evening, the EPA said all EJCPS program applications “have gone through a rigorous scoring and approval process to ensure that project activities and objectives are consistent with statutory authorities and to the language and intent of the ARP”.
“All applications selected for funding have been reviewed by EPA’s Office of General Counsel,” the statement said. “The EJ Grants Program funds community projects. A fundamental tenet of environmental justice is that communities speak for themselves and are best placed to know how to resolve the challenges they face. The EJ Grants Program, now with nearly three decades of experience delivering effective grants to communities across the country, has a reputation for investing taxpayer dollars responsibly and in places that meet community needs and support longer-term goals of community revitalization.