"Big Polluters Freed from Environmental Oversight by Stimulus"

"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."

Kristen Lombardi and John Solomon report for the Center for Public Integrity November 28, 2010.

SEE ALSO:

"NEPA Exemptions: The Dirty Dozen List" (CPI)

"Wisconsin Firm Receives Energy Grant Despite Chronic Pollution Problems" (CPI)

"How a Polluter Gets Stimulus Money — and Avoids Environmental Review" (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)

Source: Center for Public Integrity, 11/29/2010