The Inflation Reduction Act’s EPA slush fund gets going: Now it needs to be stopped

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Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced eight nonprofit organizations will be able to hand out $20 billion of taxpayer dollars to recipients of their choosing.

This is all part of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (the Fund), which was created in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The program gives the EPA wide discretion in how it spends the money. The nonprofits receiving money from the EPA also have wide discretion. It’s basically an EPA slush fund to create slush funds.

As implemented by the EPA, there are three programs within the Fund: Clean Communities Investment Accelerator ($6 billion), Solar for All ($7 billion), and the National Clean Investment Fund ($14 billion).

The recent announcement covers the $20 billion for the Clean Communities Investment Accelerator and the National Clean Investment Fund. Five of the eight selected nonprofits will have about $2 billion or more to distribute. One organization has $7 billion and another $5 billion.

Even for legislators who think that the general purpose of the Fund is desirable, they should oppose the way the program operates.

It would be bad enough if it were just an EPA slush fund. Congress would be effectively handing over its spending power to the EPA. Plus, such a fund could easily become rife with abuse and cronyism.

But it’s worse. The Fund allows the EPA to hand out billions of dollars to organizations that can have their own slush funds.

It doesn’t matter what the purpose of the fund is, such a scheme is unacceptable.

To its credit, the House recently passed legislation (H.R. 1023) that would eliminate the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The Senate needs to follow suit. Of course, even if it did, President Joe Biden would veto the legislation.

The EPA’s implementation of the Fund will likely constitute a rule subject to the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Legislators should also pursue a CRA resolution of disapproval because it can get around a Senate filibuster. Granted, a resolution would also be vetoed. However, there is still value in such actions, including setting the precedent for the next Congress.

Congress needs to dismantle the “green” programs in the IRA. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund should be a prime target.