Cashing in on Global Warming

The Kyoto global warming treaty may pose a looming threat to the U.S. economy, but it has spawned a cottage industry based in the nation’s capital, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. A review of Environmental Protection Agency grants shows that the federal government has shelled out almost $7 million to private groups that advocate the U.N. climate treaty. These groups typically call themselves "non-governmental organizations," but can they truly be considered non-governmental when they are on the government’s payroll?

The EPA carefully designs its grants to cultivate support for international regulation of energy markets. EPA paid over a $1.3 million to "Local Environmental Initiatives-USA" for the purpose of organizing municipal government bureaucrats into a global warming lobby. The Climate Institute received $727,000 to educate the public about global warming and the evils of fossil fuels generally. The agency also paid the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security $190,000 to disseminate "objective information" regarding climate change. Of course, "objective" in this context means that it must promote the official interpretation of the Clinton-Gore administration.

Another way to promote the climate treaty is to fund research that supports the government’s predetermined scientific conclusions. The World Resources Institute was given $150,000 to demonstrate how the climate treaty would improve public health. Resources for the Future was rewarded $437,000 to show how poor people are traumatized by the "hydrologic effects" of global warming.

To generate support for the climate treaty from business, EPA gave $103,000 to the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy (a.k.a. the International Climate Change Partnership), a lobbying group for corporations such as British Petroleum, Boeing, and General Electric. These companies either seek regulatory protection from competitors or have close ties to the government from their dependence on federal subsidies.

Other EPA grants promote a similar form of business rent seeking. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, the Institute for International Energy Conservation, and the Climate Institute were all paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to agitate for energy restrictions. U.S. tax dollars are being used to propagandize American industry about the need for energy conservation, to write "climate change action plans" for Third World countries, and to manage carbon reduction programs in China. These groups and their affiliates hope the Kyoto treaty will lead to an avalanche of government-funded energy conservation subsidies in the future.

EPA’s activities reveal a symbiotic relationship between power-seeking government bureaucrats and rent-seeking "NGOs," each of whom stands to benefit tremendously from the environmental policies they advocate. Legions of environmental pressure groups, business lobbyists and tax-exempt research institutes have been put on the global warming dole. In return for Washington’s largess, this vast special interest constituency lobbies the government to give itself stronger regulatory powers. Who loses from this scheme? Those taxpayers, consumers, and honest businesses who make money the old fashioned way – they earn it.

EPA's Global Warming Grants



Local Environmental Initiatives-USA


Resources for the Future


Natural Resources Defense Council


Climate Institute


International Institute for Energy Conservation


Climate Institute


Resources for the Future


World Resources Institute


American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy


Climate Institute


Climate Institute


Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security


World Resources Institute


Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy


Resources for the Future


Resources for the Future


American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy


American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy


Source:  EPA Grants Information and Control System (multi – year grant from 1995 to present).

James Sheehan ([email protected]) is a CEI research associate.