Leftwing groups are freaking out about Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General and Donald Trump’s nominee for the EPA. It is safe to say that the collective meltdown over Pruitt is greater than over any other Trump pick. You probably have no idea why and it has nothing to do with climate change.
Superficially, progressives are saying that Pruitt is a climate change denier and has no business managing the agency he sued so often. But that’s just cover.
The real reason has everything to do with money.
With the blessing of the Department of Justice, the EPA has been going after major corporations and telling those corporations that they can pay a massive fine to the federal government or pay a lesser amount to various environmentalist groups.
More often than not, to get the EPA off their backs, the companies fork over money to leftwing run environmentalist groups. Those groups then begin a vicious cycle. They start hounding the corporations that give them money, file complaints with the EPA, then get the EPA to shake down the companies for more money.
Congress investigated this and the House of Representatives produced a report on what the Department of Justice is doing with corporations. The EPA, in particular, uses what’s called its “settlement fund.”
Here’s what a congressional investigation found:
A year-long Committee investigation has revealed that the DOJ is pushing and even requiring settling defendants to donate money to non-victim third-parties. Donations can earn up to double credit against defendants’ overall payment obligations, while credit for direct relief to consumers is merely dollar-for-dollar. What is more, documents show that groups that stood to gain from these mandatory donations lobbied DOJ to include them in settlements. DOJ has funneled third-party groups as much as $880 million dollars in just the last 2 years. These payments occur entirely outside of the Congressional appropriations and grant oversight process. What is worse, in some cases, DOJ-mandated donations restore funding that Congress specifically cut.
For a good explanation of what the federal government does, see this National Fish and Wildlife Foundation website that explains the process.
Enforcement actions brought by governmental authorities for violations of environmental or other natural resource laws are often settled on terms that require defendants to make community service or restitution payments. In turn, these types of payments are generally required to be applied in a manner that provides some redress for the underlying violations.
At the federal level, “community service” is expressly allowed as a condition of probation by the United States Criminal Code (18 U.S.C. §3563(b)(12)). In turn, the United States Sentencing Guidelines allow community service where it is reasonably designed to repair the harm caused by the offense (U.S.S.G. §8B1.3). Additional requirements for appropriate community service measures are outlined in the United States Attorneys’ Manual, which expressly allows “organizational community service” in settlements of environmental prosecutions. Many federal environmental prosecutions do indeed include community service payments as part of their ultimate settlement.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation uses money it gets to fund conservation programs. They have actually done some pretty amazing things. But other organizations are not so great and use the money to further harass private sector corporations, which cannot write off those payments for tax purposes.
When you hear environmental groups complaining about Scott Pruitt, remember that these groups are going to get hit hard financially because the EPA will get out of the business of shaking down corporations to fund leftwing groups.