The U.S. EPA has awarded more than $2 billion in grants to nonprofit organizations since 1993 through a process that the agency’s internal watchdog says is seriously flawed. Many grants were awarded without competitive bids, and some groups may have received preferential treatment. Some of the awards went to organizations that subsequently sued the EPA — although presumably with separate funds. (Grants haven’t just gone to left-leaning groups. For example, the National Association of Homebuilders, which received $2 million in research grants, sued the agency to eliminate a rule barring developers from excavating in swamps, bogs, and marshes without approval.) According to the Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative law firm that sued to obtain the EPA records and turned them over to the Associated Press for analysis, very few of the grants have been audited. The General Accounting Office, the congressional watchdog agency, has also raised concerns that the EPA’s money has been used to fund impermissible lobbying activity.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.