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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put $4.3 million in funds from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan towards its Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program to award grants to projects “focusing on Covid-19 impacts, as well as climate and disaster resiliency” in “underserved communities,” according to a new report.

Fox News reported that the EPA used the $4.3 million from Biden’s Covid-relief plan and $2.5 million from the agency’s annual appropriation for environmental justice to give grants to 34 organizations to fund projects that increased “acceptance of trees” in one city and launched an all-electric car-sharing program in another.

Tree New Mexico received funds to plant trees in an “underserved” area of Albuquerque and proposed using funds for “pruning workshops” and “tree care education” to help create “citizen tree stewards committed to caring for newly planted trees and older trees,” according to Fox News.

In St. Paul, Minn., a group called Hourcar received funds to kickstart “Evie carshare, a new all-electric carsharing program featuring 150 shared electric vehicles supported by 70 curbside charging stations, with a focus on service to low-income and BIPOC communities.”

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful received $200,000 for a project that taught residents about the benefits of trees and increasing “acceptance of trees in the City.”

The EPA told Fox News that applications for the EJCPS program undergo a “rigorous scoring and approval process to ensure project activities and goals align with statutory authorities and the language and intent of ARP.”

“All applications selected for funding were reviewed by EPA’s Office of General Counsel,” the statement read. “The EJ grants program funds community-driven projects. A basic tenet of environmental justice is that communities speak for themselves and are in the best position to know how to resolve challenges that they are facing. The EJ grants program, now with almost three decades of experience at awarding effective grants to communities across the country, has a record of investing taxpayer dollars in responsible ways and in places that meet communities’ needs and support longer term goals for community revitalization.”

However, with Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 plan coming under fire in recent months as a potential driving factor in the record inflation the U.S. is facing, a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said the EPA grants using funds from the American Rescue Plan were “not appropriate functions of government.”

“While our nation is $30 trillion in the hole and hemorrhaging money on the federal level, news like this should outrage every taxpayer,” Representative Ralph Norman (R., S.C.) told Fox News. “These examples are not appropriate functions of government, and are just the tip of the iceberg. The EPA – and I would argue every agency – must be held to account for how they’re utilizing public funds.”

Read more at National Review.

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