House Chairmen Say 2 Climate Change Programs ‘Put Taxpayer Dollars At Risk’

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By Ethan Barton

Two climate change programs ignore federal transparency requirements and “put taxpayer dollars at risk,” two congressional chairmen told Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke in a letter made public Wednesday.

“Despite a significant federal investment of at least $149 million, their effectiveness, management and levels of oversight remain serious concerns to the committee,” House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho wrote.

The two Republicans are requesting that Zinke turn over documents that show how DOI prevents Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LSCs) from wasting taxpayer dollars on duplicative research and how they measure their effectiveness. (RELATED: The ‘Cornerstone’ Of Interior Dept’s Climate Strategy May Waste Millions On Duplicative Research)

“Since their inception, the CSCs and LCCs have lacked necessary internal controls, failed to develop effective communication policies, and have put tax dollars at risk by acting in contravention of guidelines issued by Interior and the Office of Management and Budget,” the congressmen said. The centers were created to respond to “the impact climate change will have on land, water, fish, wildlife and cultural resources.”

The chairmen’s letter follows a March DOI inspector general report that found the CSCs and LSCs are “at increased risk of funding duplicative research.”

The centers also didn’t post project data to Climate.Data.gov, which “frustrated federal efforts to increase transparency, reduce duplication of efforts and reduce the potential for wasted taxpayer dollars,” the lawmakers wrote.

The congressmen also cited a 2013 inspector general report that found LCCs violated federal guidelines in 36 of 38 financial awards that harmed competitive bidding for funding, while one center awarded grants to members of its steering committee.

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