The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave a $13 million grant to a Michael Bloomberg-tied group looking to undermine a key U.S. industry under the EPA’s regulatory purview.
The EPA grant went to the Deep South Center For Environmental Justice (DSCFEJ), a grassroots eco-activism group that is a coalition partner of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ “Beyond Petrochemicals” campaign, according to the campaign’s website. The “Beyond Petrochemicals” campaign seeks to halt the expansion of petrochemical projects that manufacture fertilizer, plastics and packaging in the U.S., according to its website.
“DSCEJ will receive $13 million over five years to remove barriers and improve accessibility for communities with environmental justice concerns,” the EPA wrote in an August press release announcing the grant funding.
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Bloomberg, who has long been a Democratic megadonor, has committed about $85 million to the “Beyond Petrochemicals” campaign so far, according to The New York Times. The campaign, which seeks to block construction of 120 U.S. petrochemical projects, follows an earlier, similar initiative funded by Bloomberg that helped to retire about 70% of the country’s coal-fired power plants.
The campaign has already successfully disrupted construction of five petrochemical plants in the U.S., according to its website. The EPA regulates emissions from petrochemical facilities.
“If what they’re doing is going to kill everyone, I don’t care how valuable what they do is,” Bloomberg said of petrochemical projects, according to the NYT. “If there’s something that can destroy the Earth and kill all living people, then it’s hard to argue you shouldn’t focus on that.”
Some critics of the campaign have asserted that inhibiting the U.S. petrochemical manufacturing industry won’t help the global environment, as companies will simply relocate their operations to parts of the world with lower environmental and labor standards, according to the NYT. Others have implied that Bloomberg and his campaign against petrochemicals are not appreciated by many locals who live in communities that depend on the economic activity plants provide.
“Attempts to shut down American chemical manufacturing are a bet against millions of hard-working men and women in our industry,” Chris Jahn, the American Chemistry Council’s chief executive, said in a statement to the NYT. The campaign would “threaten America’s leadership to innovate and compete with countries like China,” he added.
Beyond his philanthropic and business activities, Bloomberg serves as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions.
The EPA, Bloomberg Philanthropies and DSCEFJ all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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