The White House has handed wads of stimulus cash to the biggest US polluters and given them "sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight," finds a Center for Public Integrity investigation. Coal burners like Westar Energy and chemical maker DuPont have been among the beneficiaries of some 179,000 “categorical exclusions” related to clean energy stimulus projects, meaning those projects won't be reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act.
One BP refinery site in Texas, which suffered a 2005 explosion and has the worst safety record in the oil industry, got an exemption from NEPA rules for the first stages of a carbon capture and sequestration project. The officials who gave the waivers used a “speedy review process” and told the Center they didn’t have time to scour firms’ environmental records; nor did they think past pollution should stop firms from getting stimulus cash and environmental exclusions. White House officials say the exclusions were needed in order to fast-track clean energy projects, which they say have created 35,000 jobs. Click here for the full investigation.
(Read more Center for Public Integrity stories.)