Tracking fed handouts to radical greens

By Henry Lamb

Environmental organizations are among the first to cry “corporate welfare,” “subsidized” ranching, grazing, mining, logging, as well as and whatever else may be on their agenda at the moment. All the while, these same environmental organizations belly-up to the federal trough every year to get their subsidy from the American taxpayers.

Just how much money do the taxpayers fork over to environmental organizations? Nobody knows. Ask your congressman and your senator. They can’t tell you. That’s right, nobody knows.

Back in 1983, Congress tried to get a handle on how much money was being handed out, and to whom. They created the Federal Assistance Awards Data System. Through this system, every federal agency that makes grants is supposed to report to the Census Bureau, which in turn is supposed to compile the data and make the information available to the public.

The Census Bureau has historically compiled the data in the aggregate, and produced reports for Congress, that show how much money is disbursed – by congressional district, by state, even by county – for certain causes. Nowhere could an average person find how much money was given to a particular organization by a particular government agency – without a custom-written computer program.

Mark Lamb, the Environmental Conservation Organization’s computer guru, wrote a program that allows the organization’s members to find any grant to any organization (and for what purpose) that has been reported through the FAADS.

Wow! The information is staggering. For example, since 1996, 4,500 grants have been reported for “environmental” purposes, totaling more than $1 billion to environmental organizations. Another thousand grants, totaling $138 million have been reported for “forests.” The list seems to go on forever.

Looking more specifically between 1997 and 2001, FAADS reported $82 million given to The Nature Conservancy. This is a sizeable amount for taxpayers to subsidize an environmental organization that has more assets and income than many third-world countries. But the FAADS data is not complete.

Now that we have access to the data, we have discovered that not all grants have been reported. The Office of Management and Budget has another program that audits grants to a single recipient in excess of $300,000 in a single year. A review of the audits for the same period reveals that The Nature Conservancy actually received $146.6 million instead of the $82 million reported through FAADS.

The FAADS legislation provided no enforcement mechanism, and until now, it has not been possible to see the data reported. The significant discrepancy between FAADS and the audit program raises serious questions about the validity of all of the reports based on the FAADs data.

What is certain is that the federal government is giving away far too much money to environmental organizations.

During the same period, U.S. taxpayers subsidized the World Wildlife Fund to the tune of $92.6 million and the Environmental Careers Organization, $52 million. The Environmental Careers Organization pays interns to work in various government agencies, organizations, the private sector and to go to school.

U.S. taxpayers also subsidize international environmental organizations. The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives received subsidies totaling $5.6 million. The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies received subsidies totaling $4.6 million. ICLEI is a powerful voice at all U.N. meetings relating to the environment. It claims to represent local “authority,” but what it actually represents are local environmental organizations.

There is absolutely no justification for the U.S. taxpayer to subsidize these organizations. For the most part, these organizations exist for the purpose of promoting public policy to advance their agendas, which consistently condemn subsidies for everyone else but themselves.

It’s time to stop the subsidies to environmental organizations. Period.

The federal government should stop all grants to not-for-profit organizations that are not directly involved in distributing food, shelter or health care to individuals. A review of grants to environmental organizations reveals that their activities consist largely of “outreach, education and capacity building,” which is the politically-correct way to spell propaganda.

Grants to environmental organizations exploded during the Clinton/Gore years, and agency officials feathered the nests from which they came – and to which many returned. Congress will not likely move to stop this waste and abuse of tax dollars unless there is a riotous demand from the voters.

Voters, it’s time to demand an end to subsidies for the greens.