Congress Raises Alarms About $27 Billion Green Energy ‘Slush Fund’

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
October 19, 2023

House lawmakers are warning that the Biden administration’s $27 billion green energy "slush fund" at the Environmental Protection Agency could be used to finance Democratic political allies and Chinese solar companies, according to a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund will be responsible for distributing $27 billion to nonprofit groups and the green energy technology sector by next September.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said the short deadline for doling out the money will make it difficult for the agency to conduct proper vetting of grantees. They also noted that some EPA officials previously worked for nonprofit groups that stand to benefit from the funding and questioned how the EPA will prevent money from going to Chinese companies that dominate the solar industry.

"Hardworking Americans are facing record high energy costs as a result of the administration's massive tax-and-spend agenda, which has driven inflation across the board," House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) told the Free Beacon. "Energy and Commerce Republicans won't stand by and let President Biden use this $27 billion slush fund to line the pocket of his political friends or use it on technology that is produced in China."

The letter, which Republicans sent to EPA administrator Michael Regan on Thursday, comes after the EPA inspector general warned about a lack of oversight on green energy spending. EPA inspector general Sean O'Donnell told Congress in April that the billions in new funding carries a "high risk for fraud, waste, and abuse," and the agency watchdog doesn’t have the resources to properly investigate the distribution.

"With billions of dollars on the line, an unusually accelerated timeline for disbursement, and a new and complex funding structure, this program warrants close scrutiny and rigorous oversight," wrote McMorris Rodgers and other House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans in the letter.

They added that the "EPA has no experience administering such a funding vehicle, referring to it as ‘a first-of-its-kind’ program," and has "just over a year to obligate $27 billion."

The letter also noted that some of the funding is directed to solar power and other green energy industries dominated by China and questioned how the EPA would be able to ensure that products are sourced domestically.

"China has a significant stranglehold on the availability of solar panels, among other green energy technologies—we are unsure how the EPA and program participants will ensure that the [Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund] programs are not supporting Chinese products," the letter said.

The lawmakers asked Regan to respond to their questions by November 1, and also asked for a staff-level briefing the week of October 30.