Ethan Barton, DCNF
Six nonprofit groups that criticized President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts failed to mention the nearly $179 million in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants they’ve received since 2009, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group (TheDCNF) analysis of federal spending data.
The agency has funded thousands of such groups since former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, but TheDCNF focused only on six of the largest nonprofit recipients in its analysis of grant data compiled by the watchdog Open The Books.
(Table: Ethan Barton/Daily Caller News Foundation)
Those nonprofits also received additional funding from other federal agencies across the government. It’s possible some or all of these groups will see their federal funding slashed or eliminated all together if Trump’s budget proposal is approved.
The six nonprofits have varying missions and represent EPA’s widespread use of taxpayer funds to advance the environmental agency’s legislative, public relations and regulatory agenda. For example, the largest recipient – Senior Service America Inc. – provides low-paying jobs to senior citizens.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s proposed budget cuts “would be absolutely devastating,” Senior Service America research manager Bob Harootyan told NBC News on March 16. The group has taken more than $533 million from federal agencies, including EPA, since 2009, mostly through a Department of Labor program Trump has proposed to eliminate.
Additionally, 99.6 percent of Senior Service America’s revenue in 2015 was government funded, according to the group’s 990 tax form.
The remaining five groups analyzed advocate for aggressive EPA regulatory action to ensure clean water, clean air, conservation and support for environmental science research. They, like Senior Service America, railed against Trump’s proposed budget cuts, but omitted the fact that they received millions in federal funding.
“Rather than making public health a priority, it places the health and safety of all Americans at risk,” American Lung Association President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer claimed in a statement, for example.
Wimmer listed ways he believes the budget cuts would hurt the country, but hid the fact that his organization and its local affiliates have taken $16.3 million in EPA funding since Obama’s inauguration, TheDCNF’s analysis found.
The remaining four nonprofits made similar criticisms in statements while neglecting to publicize their financial stake in the budget cuts.
Meanwhile, it’s likely that state agencies – typically among the largest EPA grant recipients – gave the nonprofits and their state and regional affiliates additional funds, which were not included in TheDCNF’s analysis.
The American Lung Association of the Southwest, for example, received just over $386,000 from federal agencies in fiscal year 2015. But the group reported that it received more than $1.9 million in government grants, according to its 990 tax form, meaning more than $1.5 million likely came from state and local grants.
It would be nearly impossible to calculate how many non-federal government grants were awarded to the groups and their dozens of affiliates.
The Environmental Council of the States – an association of state environmental agency chiefs and a recipient of nearly $13.7 million from the EPA – even addressed concerns over cuts to state agencies.
“[T]he cuts to the core state programmatic grants are untenable,” the group’s president and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner, John Linc Stine, said in a statement. The Environmental Council of the States also published a report on March 15 showing states operate 96 percent of the federal environmental programs and the EPA provides 27 percent of the funds for state environmental agency budgets on average.
Stine didn’t mention the nearly $13.7 million her organization took in EPA grants.
“Our concern with the president’s budget have to do with the cuts to” an EPA grant program that awards funds to state and tribal environmental agencies, the council’s Executive Director Alexandra Dunn told TheDCNF, adding that the council only receives a minimal funding from that program.
“We do not know how our funding will be affected going forward,” she continued.
American Association for the Advancement of Science CEO Rush Holt said through a spokesman that “like many nonprofit organizations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) receives funding from a variety of sources — including philanthropic sources, federal agencies, publishing revenue and membership dues — to advance educational and public activities.”
“AAAS is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that has worked for 169 years to advance science and serve society. We don’t hesitate to speak on issues that may impede the advancement of science to benefit all people.”
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