Admin Exempts big polluters in stimulus deal

In the name of job creation and clean energy, the Obama administration has doled out billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation’s biggest polluters and granted them sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found.

The administration has awarded more than 179,000 “categorical exclusions” to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Coal-burning utilities like Westar Energy and Duke Energy, chemical manufacturer DuPont, and ethanol maker Didion Milling are among the firms with histories of serious environmental violations that have won blanket NEPA exemptions.

Even a project at BP’s maligned refinery in Texas City, Tex. — owner of the oil industry’s worst safety record and site of a deadly 2005 explosion, as well as a benzene leak earlier this year — secured a waiver for the preliminary phase of a carbon capture and sequestration experiment involving two companies with past compliance problems. The primary firm has since dropped out of the project before it could advance to the second phase. 

Agency officials who granted the exemptions told the Center that they do not have time in most cases to review the environmental compliance records of stimulus recipients, and do not believe past violations should affect polluters’ chances of winning stimulus money or the NEPA exclusions.

The so-called “stimulus” funding came from the $787-billion legislation officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in February 2009.

Documents obtained by the Center show the administration has devised a speedy review process that relies on voluntary disclosures by companies to determine whether stimulus projects pose environmental harm. Corporate polluters often omitted mention of health, safety, and environmental violations from their applications. In fact, administration officials told the Center they chose to ignore companies’ environmental compliance records in making grant decisions and issuing NEPA exemptions, saying they considered such information irrelevant.

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28 Responses to Admin Exempts big polluters in stimulus deal

  1. Bryan K says:

    This is the kind of shit that annoys me about Obama.

    • Profile photo of Breezy Belle Breezy Belle says:

      I agree.

      To be totally honest – it’s annoyed me about every single president that has held the office in my adult life. This kind of shit never seems to change, regardless of who is in the damn office.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kind of like a dog chasing a car…figuring out what to do with it, its occupants, and the operating costs is not counted on by the dog…..just the chase.
      Oops…you mean I am not king??? Every single one of them.

  2. Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

    Um clarify. Not that I disagree, Obama has once again lowered the standard I expect of my president and is doing “Business As Usual” on the hill.

    Obama, when first elected, attended the Climate summit, brokered a lot of good. He isn’t even considering attending it now. I guess things like the environment are only important to him if its poltically expedient.

    • Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

      Ok, now that I am digesting this article a little more, I have a comment about it. When was the stimulus act tied into NEPA? This article infers the direct connection when the two issues are not even tangental. Whats wrong with this entire picture isn’t the stimulus package, or even the exemptions. The source wants to enflame the readers by making the connection that their tax dollars are going to these horrible corporations that are polluting the land. I am beginning to consider rescinding my prior post.

      Obama SHOULD stand behind NEPA, and enforce it, especially since it was his legislation. He should be fining these companies for non compliance.

      The stimulus package was corporate welfare, and we should consider it innapropriate governmental support in a free market system. Its not the governments job to create jobs, or to “Stimulate” business’s into success.

      Still business as usual on the hill, but after a little thought, its presented bass ackwards and I don’t think I like this source after all.

  3. Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

    I’d like to mention one thing about this source…. It takes no government money, and no advertisement dollars. One of the companies being addressed in this article, DuPont is one of its major founding contributors. I am impressed with the Public Integrity foundation.

  4. Henry says:

    Exemptions for the well-connected. Meanwhile, the small rancher near Tolna gets trounced upon with no exemption granted.

    We pay to dirty some other hemisphere’s environment while priding ourselves in how “green” we are. We take money from one industry to subsidize another.

    Let’s get rid of the Clean Air and Water Acts. Let’s get rid of the EPA. They are just feel good law and bureacracy designed to control people for reasons other than saving the environment. This we can plainly see.

    • Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

      Getting rid of the environmental acts would solve which problems? I am sure allowing everybody to pollute instead of just the wealthy corporations would bring us a long way to cleaning up the environment.

      • Henry says:

        We are already polluting, Vert. We in a very ignorant fashion pat ourselves on the back for our “green-ness”. Let’s get rid of all the bluster and live in reality.

        The great polluting furnace at Anaconda is extinguished. And if you have ever driven by, you could hardly tell it was even there. Great. But, that furnace is now somewhere else. We haven’t gained a thing other than accumulating debt and the insecurity of us not being able to properly react like we did after Pearl Harbor.

        On another similar note, I see the demoncrats in the Senate passed a food bill. Critics say it will be the end of small farmers due to bureacracy and paperwork requirements. The small farmer is already almost extinct. This legislation will “clean up” those that remain. More bad law and regulation. Less liberty. Less community. All packaged with a cute bow on it.

        • Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

          I don’t know what to say to that Henry… it dumbfounds me…. I don’t know which more… the sheer ignorance of that post, or the meaningless generalities you express. You obvously HAVE been educated exclusively by the pundits if you believe that!

          Yes, we ARE already polluting, and you say we should just stop trying to clean up our world because we do pollute? I DON’T THINK SO. Thats all the more reason we need to clamp down and enforce the laws.

          I don’t think you understand the level of good the laws have done, even if it isn’t close to what should be enforced. The Hudson bay, 40 years ago, was a dead ecology. Yes, the entire Hudson River going inland over 200 miles had absolutely no life in it… it had had so many chemicals dumped in it, it was toxic to even live nearby. It now has a living ecology and some people even risk swimming in it! The Clean Water Act saved that river! Lets talk Love Canal… The Colorado River.. I

          I can give many examples of this kind of improvements these acts have done… Admittedly, just as this topic clearly illustrates, we have a lot of enforcement to do, but just because we are not enforcing the laws doesn’t mean we should rescind them.

          I don’t get you Henry; only a pig pees in his bathwater, and you want to feed the pig extra water so he pee’s more.

          • Henry says:

            Vert, we can talk Love Canal. The Al Gore family owned the chemical company that polluted it. Sen. Al Gore chaired the senate hearings. Talk about fox guarding the henhouse. The penalties assessed the Gore company was a pitance compared to total costs. Great example, Vert!

            Hudson Bay? What the hell does the Clean Air and Water acts of the USA have to do with the Hudson Bay? You are confusing.

            Great, we have a clean USA. We pat ourselves on the back. We pay others to pollute so we don’t have to. What has been gained? Let’s quit the charades. Reality is that we should abandon the EPA, CWA, and CAA. We pollute right now. It is in a different location than the beautiful Hudson River. We are finding paying someone else to pollute is unsustainable. We are running out of money. The pollution still exists. And we place ourselves at the mercy of others who don’t think highly of us or freedom.

          • Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

            Riddled with empty rhetoric again, Henry. Please stop it.

            Who are the “Others” who we put ourselves in “The Mercy Of”?

            What “Freedoms” are “they” taking away when we try to not to pollute?

            “Pay others to pollute so we don’t have to?” WTF?????

            WHO are we paying to pollute FOR us???

            What difference does it make if its Al Gores family or someone else?

            And these are good reasons to just throw away regulations and allow the worst polluters to continue to pollute? I THINK NOT.

            I understand the frustration that is felt when the big corporations are exempt from rules we expect of small companies, and they shouldn’t be. Thats not a good reason to allow them all to pollute as you assert. In fact, they should be held MORE responsable because the amount of pollution they produce is exponentially higher. You should be looking for enforcement of the rules… not suspension of them.

            You should be, especially as one who CLAIMS to fight for the individuals rights over govornments… or corporations…. ourtraged that YOUR air is being destroyed to make someone else a profit. YOUR water is being degraded beyond potability.

            Put away your empty rhetoric, it doesn’t justify anything. Apply some common sense, and try to understand that you only have one world, and unless we take care of it… its going to kill you.

          • Henry says:

            Empty rhetoric? I was quite specific in what should be done. Again, reality is that we should abandon the EPA, CWA, and CAA.

            Your little pig metaphor ironically characterizes your positions well. Pigs to the contrary what you alleged are actually very clean animals.

          • Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

            Well, thats refreshing Henry… although wrong minded. I commend you for giving a post that states your stand without the meaningless empty pundit rhetoric.

            It just saddens me to think that you are either too ignorant to believe that unfettered free market will allow the environment to be totally destroyed, or even worse, think its OK for them to totally destroy the environment.

            How do you… without the meaningless empty rhetoric, justify simply allowing them to pollute the planet? To me its unconsianable and as a passenger in Biosphere II, will always speak up. They don’t have the right to destroy MY environment.

          • Henry says:

            There’s a saying Vert. You gotta live. How refreshing it would be if we could live in your eutopia! I would embrace that wholeheartedly. The fact of the matter is we cannot. The Cheyy Obomba Volt requires real power from real fossil fuel burning plants. Sure, we can dot the landscape with windmills. But, you need the same fossil fuel burning plants you had before as backup even if you were to have adequate numbers of turbines (but you can’t). So, we are back to burning fossil fuels. And if we were to live primitively in our yurt without fossil fuels, we would have wood smoke everywhere and the forests denuded, people sneaking into our National Parks with gunny sacks to extract out charcoal.
            My point is we cannot get away from polluting. It is intrinsic to human life. And back to the original discussion, why should some well-connected entities be allowed to pollute and some not? You are never going to eliminate the exemptions. Pelosi’s Starkist factory when the going gets tough will be given a helping hand. So will/did the Gore family when the going gets/got tough. That is just how life works. Let’s equalize the playng field in the only way it can be done. Let’s eliminate EPA, CWA, and CAA. At this point, we can’t afford them. We have to give money to Europe and at the same time pay our debt to China.

          • Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

            That doesn’t equalize the field, Henry, just gives everybody a blank check to destroy the environment.

            We need to set the standards, and require everybody to follow those standards. As much as you want to blame the liberals for taking exemptions, it doesn’t matter WHO gets them, we need leadership who will enforce it.

            This means electing good leaders, not rescinging the rules. How are we going to get those good leaders, Henry? BY STOPPING THIS DIVISIVE PARTISAN POLITICS YOU KEEP PANDERING TO.

            You, yes that means YOU, and me, and Andy, and Bryan, and everybody else needs to stop listening to those pundits and doing what they tell us to do, and start thinking independently. We need to start realizing we only have one world, and the people we elect to run it had BETTER have the right priorities. The priorities to enforce the laws set forth to protect all of us.

          • Henry says:

            Uhm…Vert. I am thinking independently. Give me a pundit that has said to eliminate the EPA, CWA, and CAA. I bet you can’t find one that said that. They are my own thoughts based on living and observing.

            Let’s get rid of this notion of good leaders. There have been a few in the 20th century. By the time the few good leaders make their mark in Washington and undo as much previous bad law and regulation as they can, it is time for them to leave. Their impact is in effect slowing the bad regulation and law down. And this only happens once every 20-30 years. Let’s be real and assume we will keep electing bad leaders, which really is collectively is a reflection on us. We cannot hang our hat on having good leaders. It is up to us.

            Therefore, with bad leaders, we cannot expect them to enforce pollution laws equally. It just won’t happen. Let’s equalize the playing field rather than playing favorites.

  5. In the News says:

    Yet another former ACORN employee was convicted of voter fraud last week. This brings the total number of convictions for former workers from the embattled group to at least 15 so far this year.

    Kevin L. Clancy of Milwaukee pleaded guilty last week to participating “in a scheme to submit fraudulent voter registration applications,” according to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. Clancy admitted to filing multiple voter registration applications for the same individuals and registering himself and other voter registration canvassers to vote multiple times while working on an ACORN voter drive.

    Clancy received a 10-month prison term for his crime. Clancy’s sentence will begin when he completes another sentence he is currently serving for armed robbery.

    “The integrity of elections is dependent upon citizens and officials insisting they be conducted lawfully,” Van Hollen said. “Wisconsin’s citizens should not have to wonder whether their vote has been negated or diminished by illegally cast ballots.”

    Read more:

    • Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

      LOL, thanks for giving the source, In The News.

      This article still doesn’t show collusion… it only has a quote from the prosecuting attorney implying the individual did it premeditatively. Acorn was not on trial, he was. There is still no indication of actual collusion. If so, it will come out in the trial, I am sure, but lets not convict before trial.

      What I am seeing in this, is there is an inappropriety with paying people to register voters. It motivates them to try to make extra money by breaking the law. I will comment on this one on the next thread, since In The News posted 2.

  6. In the News says:

    A plea deal in a Nevada case about illegal bonus payments to voter-registration workers underlines just how corrupt far-left ACORN was.

    The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Floridian Amy Busefink, 28, worked on Project Vote’s joint 2007-08 voter registration drive with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. She faced 13 felony counts linked to $5 bonuses paid to ACORN canvassers who registered 21 or more voters in a day.

    Ms. Busefink entered an “Alford plea”—legalese for acknowledging conviction’s likelihood without admitting criminal acts—to two misdemeanor conspiracy counts. Facing up to two years in jail and a $4,000 fine, she plans to challenge the constitutionality of Nevada’s law banning compensation incentives for voter-registration workers.

  7. Profile photo of Vertigo Vertigo says:

    “Just how Corrupt Far Left ACORN was..” Now THATS unbiased reporting… but disregarding that…..

    I think the alford plea sounds appropriate for her situation.

    This case is apparently one where the person is paying people to register votes in a state she was not aware it was illegal to do so. It is being appealed, and it sounds like if this were in another state, everything was legal and appropriate. I am not hearing of voter influencing or multiple registration of individuals, someone was running their business with responsability.

    Once again, where I question this is the appropriateness of paying people to register votes. It obviously encourages individuals to commit fraud… but still doesn’t amount to collusion.

  8. From the Opinion Pages says:

    25) Liberals seem to have hit upon a reverse Christ story as their belief system. He suffered and died for our sins; liberals make the rest of us suffer for sins we didn’t commit. Their claims of how awful ‘we’ are never seems to encompass themselves in the ‘we.’ Saying America is a racist nation is never meant to suggest that the speaker is a racist — it’s his neighbors who are the racists.

    24) It’s the famous liberal two-step: First screw something up, then claim that it’s screwed up because there’s not enough government oversight (it’s the free market run wild!), and then step in and really screw it up in the name of “reform.”

    23) This is liberalism’s real strength. It is no longer susceptible to reductio ad absurdium arguments. Before you can come up with a comical take on their worldview, some college professor has already written an article advancing the idea.

    22) As long as American liberals are going to keep announcing that they’re embarrassed for their country, how about being embarrassed by our public schools or by our ridiculous trial lawyer culture that other countries find laughable?

    21) Liberals never, ever drop a heinous idea; they just change the name. “Abortion” becomes “choice,” “communist” becomes “progressive,” “communist dictatorship” becomes “people’s democratic republic” and “Nikita Khrushchev” becomes “Barack Obama.”

    20) Americans cannot comprehend how their fellow countrymen could not love their country. But the left’s anti-Americanism is intrinsic to their entire worldview. Liberals promote the right of Islamic fanatics for the same reason they promote the rights of adulterers, pornographers, abortionists, criminals, and Communists. They instinctively root for anarchy against civilization.

    19) Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America’s self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant.

    18) Liberals don’t believe there is such a thing as “fact” or “truth.” Everything is a struggle for power between rival doctrines.

    17) The liberal charge of “hypocrisy” has so permeated the public consciousness that no one is willing to condemn any behavior anymore, no matter how seedy. The unstated rule is: If you’ve done it, you can’t ever criticize it — a standard that would seem to repudiate the good works of the Rev. Franklin Graham, Malcolm X, Whittaker Chambers and St. Paul, among others.

    16) Liberals don’t mind discussing who is more patriotic if patriotism is defined as redistributing income and vetoing the Pledge of Allegiance. Only if patriotism is defined as supporting America do they get testy and drone on about ‘McCarthyism.

    15) Liberals use the word science exactly as they use the word constitutional. Both words are nothing more or less than a general statement of liberal approval, having nothing to do with either science or the Constitution.

    14) If liberals were prevented from ever again calling Republicans dumb, they would be robbed of half their arguments. To be sure, they would still have “racist,” “fascist,” “homophobe,” “ugly,” and a few other highly nuanced arguments in the quiver. But the loss of “dumb” would nearly cripple them.

    13) Here the country had finally given liberals a war against fundamentalism and they don’t want to fight it. They would have, except it would put them on the same side as the United States.

    12) Just as we’re always told that schoolyard bullies are actually deeply insecure, liberals rationalize their own ferocious behavior by claiming to have been wounded somehow. What about the little guy our poor, insecure bully is beating the living daylights out of? How’s his self-esteem coming along? That is the essence of liberals: They viciously attack everyone else, while wailing that they are the victims.

    11) What liberals mean by “goose-stepping” or “ethnic cleansing” is generally something along the lines of “eliminating taxpayer funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. But they can’t say that, or people would realize they’re crazy. So instead they accuse Republicans by speaking in code words.

    10) With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan’s premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society.

    9) The reason any conservative’s failing is always major news is that it allows liberals to engage in their very favorite taunt: Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy is the only sin that really inflames them. Inasmuch as liberals have no morals, they can sit back and criticize other people for failing to meet the standards that liberals simply renounce. It’s an intriguing strategy. By openly admitting to being philanderers, draft dodgers, liars, weasels and cowards, liberals avoid ever being hypocrites.

    8) Liberals claim to love gays when it allows them to vent their spleen at Republicans. But disagree with liberals and their first response is to call you gay. Liberals are gays’ biggest champions on issues most gays couldn’t care less about, like gay marriage or taxpayer funding of photos of men with bullwhips up their derrieres. But who has done more to out, embarrass, and destroy the lives of gay men who prefer to keep their orientation private than Democrats? Who is more intolerant of gays in the Republican Party than gays in the Democratic Party?

    7) Liberals become indignant when you question their patriotism, but simultaneously work overtime to give terrorists a cushion for the next attack and laugh at dumb Americans who love their country and hate the enemy.

    6) If you can somehow force a liberal into a point-counterpoint argument, his retorts will bear no relation to what you’ve said — unless you were in fact talking about your looks, your age, your weight, your personal obsessions, or whether you are a fascist. In the famous liberal two-step, they leap from one idiotic point to the next, so you can never nail them. It’s like arguing with someone with Attention Deficit Disorder.

    5) If liberals expressed half as much self-righteous indignation about crime as they do about the random case of police brutality, one might be inclined to take them seriously. Criminals they like. It’s the police they hate.

    4) Liberals are perennially enraged that Republicans are allowed to talk back. For years, this wasn’t a problem, because, in Lenin’s immortal words, they had seized the telegraph office. There were only three TV stations, three major newspapers, and a handful of national magazines, all run by liberals. But at least since Rush Limbaugh got a microphone, liberals haven’t been able to make arguments in a vacuum.

    3) But all liberals only have empathy for the exact same victims — always the ones that are represented by powerful liberal interest groups.

    2) Liberals hate religion because politics is a religion substitute for liberals and they can’t stand the competition.

    1) Words mean nothing to liberals. They say whatever will help advance their cause at the moment, switch talking points in a heartbeat, and then act indignant if anyone uses the exact same argument they were using five minutes ago.

  9. Neil Tricamo says:

    We achieve enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we succeed in those that may also utilize our defects.
    I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill.

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