Tuesday, June 19, 2018

EPA / Inside the Grants Review:  'This Is Not Going to Be Funded'

EPA headquarters in Washington. (Credit: @EPAScottPruitt/Twitter) Click to Enlarge.
Recently disclosed records shed more light on EPA's review of agency grants, which number in the billions of dollars.

Internal EPA emails, released to the Natural Resources Defense Council under the Freedom of Information Act, offer more details on a grants review managed by John Konkus, a deputy public affairs chief and one of President Trump's political appointees.  The documents show the review involved several appointees at times and often flagged EPA funds that were flowing to the Obama administration's allies and priorities, like combating climate change.

Career officials at EPA also pushed back on decisions to pull funding from certain organizations.  They also tried to make the case that agency money could be worked into the agenda of President Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Memo now rescinded
The grants review attracted scrutiny after E&E News reported last August that Konkus, a political appointee, was overseeing the process, which had been typically managed by career officials.  An EPA spokesman told E&E News that the Trump administration wanted to be "good stewards" of taxpayer money.

"EPA awards about $4 billion in grants annually, and the Trump EPA is committed to being good stewards of the taxpayers' huge investment in our agency by reviewing every grant award and solicitation," said the spokesman.

EPA issued a memo on Aug. 8 last year directing its Office of Public Affairs to review and approve all grant solicitations.

EPA's grants process, however, has changed again.

The agency shared with E&E News an email sent last month, which rescinded the Aug. 8 memo.  Instead, regional administrators and assistant administrators at EPA now have to approve "solicitation issuance" for grants.

"Now that all of our Regional Administrators and most of our program AAs are in place, we have shifted the responsibility to these leaders to review and manage the grants that flow through their respective offices," said the EPA spokesman.

Read more at EPA / Inside the Grants Review:  'This Is Not Going to Be Funded'

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