Fox Targets Tiny Grant Program Helping Local Communities

Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

Environmental JusticeIn 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency established an Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, which disburses about $1 million in grants every year to non-profit organizations and Native American tribes in the disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution. The grants help communities learn about and find solutions for local environmental and public health problems.

Following a Daily Caller report, Fox News repeatedly lambasted the program as "government waste" that "we can't afford." Fox's Tobin Smith even baselessly claimed that there is "hundreds of billions of dollars of waste" in "these things." In 2011, the grant program disbursed $1 million in funding - around .0000003% of federal expenditures. So for those trying to follow Fox's logic: We can't afford $1 million for local programs supporting environmental and public health, but if you try to reconsider $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy, it's "class warfare."

Fox predictably failed to mention that this grant program existed throughout the Bush administration. In highlighting several program successes, Bush's EPA described how a $15,000 grant helped an economically disadvantaged area in Michigan that is home to several Native American reservations collect over 47 tons of hazardous waste -- more than the county waste facility collected over the previous seven years.

So why all the vitriol for this small grant program? According to Fox guest Chris Horner, the grants help the poor and therefore they are "preaching oppression and victimization":

Horner's bizarre rant sounds like a flashback to Glenn Beck's ramblings. Indeed, Beck attacked the very idea of environmental justice, and smeared one of its proponents -- former "green jobs czar" Van Jones. Horner similarly tried to discredit the program by tying the grant program to Jones and repeating the word "community organizing" five times.

One of the grants Fox mocked aims to educate tenants and landlords in Cleveland, Ohio about safe ways to prevent and treat bed bug infestations. Fox Business spent several minutes laughing about this grant, but it's not clear what's so laughable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that if tenants misuse pesticides to address bed bug infestations they could face "serious health risks."

After cherry-picking through dozens of grants, the most Fox could find is that one of the grants went toward "movement classes" and "fun problem solving" for elementary school students learning about air pollution. Fox also said the grants shouldn't support education about climate change because "some argue that it's not even a perfect science." (And Fox knows um perfect science when they see it!)

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