The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a practice in recent years that allows the agency to "create its own de facto power of the purse," according to a report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released Tuesday.
The EPA and Department of Justice (DOJ) force private companies and individuals to fund policies and initiatives that the agencies and president support but that Congress has not weighed-in on, or may even have voted against in the past. Enforcing the Clean Air Act, the agencies are able to level "mitigation" penalties and dictate how an entity must compensate society for breaking federal law.
CEI senior fellow and the report's author William Yeatman is urging President Donald Trump and his administration to stop the practice.
"While the Trump administration has taken the right steps to put an end to this attempt by the EPA to act with the power of the purse that it doesn't have, more can be done both by the agency and Congress to ensure this political behavior doesn't return," Yeatman said.
Since 2005, the EPA has funneled $1.55 billion from private companies caught violating the Clean Air Act into "green" energy infrastructure projects meant to mitigate the companies' actions, the report states.
Officials caught Volkswagen cheating emissions tests in 2015 by installing software in cars that improves the vehicle's performance when tested by regulators. The car company is now forced to invest $2 billion in the next 10 years building electric car charging stations across the U.S., Reuters reports.
The EPA was able to secure funding for electric vehicle infrastructure despite Congress voting down a similar proposal to invest $320 billion on "clean" transportation as part of former President Barack Obama's last budget proposal.
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