Flat-Out Lie or Scandalous Incompetence?

Fred Upton (Chair of House Energy & Commerce Committee) continued his campaign to gut the EPA with a particular attack that we hope was an intentional lie and act of grotesque political demagoguery. Because the prospect of it being an honest mistake is even scarier, indicating a scandalous level of incompetence coming from someone who heads such a huge (54 members) and hugely important legislative committee.

The short version: Upton and the chairs of three subcommittees issued a report blasting the Obama administration for EPA grants to foreign governments and organizations, claiming that millions of dollars are being wasted as the EPA has ramped up overseas handouts since the 2009 stimulus package.

The Upton report and the accompanying press release asserts that the EPA has awarded $27 million to other countries in 2009-2010.  The truth turns out to be that $21 million of that $27 million was initiated under the Bush administration. Could it be that one of the most powerful committees in Congress (its staff, its members, etc.) are unable to read a budget sheet and understand when agency grants are awarded and renewed (as in, who was President, who was EPA Administrator, etc.?).

In a letter from ranking democrat Henry Waxman to Upton on Monday (July 11), the details are explained, and a retraction of the report is requested. Some excerpts:

“Your report concludes that EPA has “intensified its foreign grants program, doling out over $27 million overseas” since February 17, 2009, which is the day the stimulus was signed into law” [Memorandum to Members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce from Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Majority Staff (June 27, 2011) (online at http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/PDFs/062711MajMem...].

“In a press release accompanying the release of the report, you state that EPA has “ramped up” foreign grants and done so “at an alarming rate.” [Committee on Energy and Commerce, Report Reveals EPA has Ramped Up Foreign Handouts, Sending Millions to China, Russia, and the United Nations Despite Record Deficits, Looming Debt Ceiling, and Soaring Unemployment (June 27, 2011)].

Your report asserts that EPA awarded $27 million in 65 foreign grants in 2009 and 2010.  In fact, the 38 grants initiated under the Bush administration account for $21 million of the $27 million obligated for these 65 grants.

“Far from “ramping up” grants to foreign governments, the Obama administration in most cases appears to be fulfilling grant commitments originally made during the previous administration. “

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A sign of how congress is working: The website of the official Committee on Energy and Commerce has been run in such a partisan manner by the GOP majority, it has led the democrats to launch their own, parallel website. Click here to visit it.

Compare this to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, run by the democratic majority.

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In this earlier FOX News coverage of “EPA’s Shady Foreign Grants” during the past 10 years, no mention is made of who was President for (and therefore appointed the Administrator of the EPA, or which party controlled the congressional purse strings at which points):

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About Scott Brophy
Scott Brophy is a philosophy professor whose work is focused on the intersection of philosophy and public policy, especially on environmental issues, law, and education. He has also taught philosophy of science, logic, and the history of philosophy. He has served as a consultant for educational programs and schools throughout the U.S. and abroad, and as an adviser to several philanthropic foundations.

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