Shakedowns of corporations by EPA seen ending under Trump administration

by WorldTribune Staff, December 11, 2016

Many environmentalists are having a meltdown over President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head up the EPA, and it “has nothing to do with climate change,” radio host Erick Erickson said on Dec. 8.

Scott Pruitt. /AP
Scott Pruitt. /AP

The left insists that Trump’s pick, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is a climate change denier and has no business managing the EPA that he has often sued.

“But that’s just cover,” Erickson said. “The real reason has everything to do with money.”

“With the blessing of the Department of Justice, the EPA has been going after major corporations and telling those corporations that they can pay a massive fine to the federal government or pay a lesser amount to various environmentalist groups.

“More often than not, to get the EPA off their backs, the companies fork over money to leftwing run environmentalist groups. Those groups then begin a vicious cycle. They start hounding the corporations that give them money, file complaints with the EPA, then get the EPA to shake down the companies for more money,” Erickson said.

A congressional investigation into what the EPA calls its “settlement fund” found:

“Donations can earn up to double credit against defendants’ overall payment obligations, while credit for direct relief to consumers is merely dollar-for-dollar. What is more, documents show that groups that stood to gain from these mandatory donations lobbied DOJ to include them in settlements. DOJ has funneled third-party groups as much as $880 million dollars in just the last 2 years. These payments occur entirely outside of the Congressional appropriations and grant oversight process. What is worse, in some cases, DOJ-mandated donations restore funding that Congress specifically cut.”

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation website explains the process:

“Enforcement actions brought by governmental authorities for violations of environmental or other natural resource laws are often settled on terms that require defendants to make community service or restitution payments. In turn, these types of payments are generally required to be applied in a manner that provides some redress for the underlying violations.

“At the federal level, ‘community service’ is expressly allowed as a condition of probation by the United States Criminal Code (18 U.S.C. §3563(b)(12)). In turn, the United States Sentencing Guidelines allow community service where it is reasonably designed to repair the harm caused by the offense (U.S.S.G. §8B1.3). Additional requirements for appropriate community service measures are outlined in the United States Attorneys’ Manual, which expressly allows “organizational community service” in settlements of environmental prosecutions. Many federal environmental prosecutions do indeed include community service payments as part of their ultimate settlement.”

Erickson said the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation uses money it gets from the settlements to fund conservation programs and “they have actually done some pretty amazing things. But other organizations are not so great and use the money to further harass private sector corporations, which cannot write off those payments for tax purposes.”

Erickson concluded: “When you hear environmental groups complaining about Scott Pruitt, remember that these groups are going to get hit hard financially because the EPA will get out of the business of shaking down corporations to fund leftwing groups.”