Stop subsidizing the “Greens”

Joe Sullivan is Executive Director, Sacramento County Taxpayers League

For 40 years the Sacramento County Taxpayers League has opposed misuse of public money. Although federal misuse is difficult to resolve, their practice of subsidizing environmental organizations that use tax money for lawsuits against governmental agencies and private citizens should end.

The Paragon Foundation wrote that the Sierra Club spends money to influence elections, politicians and public opinion, along with bringing “citizen enforcement of environmental laws” type of lawsuits using public money. Also stated was that taxpayers chip in millions through covert grants made to the Sierra Club, and to other environmental groups, by U.S. government agencies. Paragon reports that 20 percent, about 2,400 green groups, receive benefits awarded as: (1) direct payments from the U.S. Treasury, (2) government subsidies in the form of reduced or excused payments of normal property taxes; and (3) income to advocacy groups for non-controversial nature programs that free up organizational funds for lobbying, litigation and influencing elections.

An example cited was the tax-funded National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s financial support of environmental groups that become involved in litigation against federal agencies and private citizens. Also mentioned was a grant of $199,623 by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), a federal agency with the job of overseeing federal records, to the University of California, Berkeley, which, with NARA’s approval, was actually used to develop record management guidelines for the Sierra Club.

These are just the tips of federal monies flowing to environmental groups who create tax-exempt, nonprofit corporations to obtain federal and private foundation monies. The IRS does not publish government grants received by environmental organizations, and federal agencies are secretive in their environmental gifts.

The Center For The Defense Of Free Enterprise investigated 200 environmental groups and documented over $58 million in green funding, including $1.25 million to the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. They noted, “There is no federal directory that lists all governmental grants received by the approximately 12,000 environmental organizations.” Even the Environmental Protection Agency award compilations are not complete. The Center documented $156,644,352 in federal spending to 35 environmental organizations over the years. Worse, no congressional oversight exists over these monies.

Millions of taxpayers’ dollars disappear into unregulated, unaccountable organizations working to deprive people of property rights, and to support their individual agendas. It’s time Congress is held accountable for this misapplication of public money.