Sen. Tom Carper sent a letter Feb. 6 to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting information on EPA’s grant approval process and grant awards for 2017.

A staff review of publicly available information indicates that EPA reported awarding $1.1 billion in the first three quarters of 2017 — just one third of the $3.5 billion awarded over the same period in 2016.

EPA grant money accounts for about half of the agency’s nearly $8 billion budget, and Congress appropriates that money to EPA for the specific purpose of awarding it to nonprofit organizations and state and local governments to help these entities achieve their goals for protecting human health and the environment. Under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, EPA is also required to disclose all award data to a publicly searchable database within 30 days of making an award.

“A recent analysis of EPA’s publicly available grants data undertaken by my staff demonstrates that at least 49 out of 50 states saw declines in reported EPA funding in 2017 as compared to a similar period in 2016. The state of Delaware, for example, saw a 71 percent reduction in grant funding last year compared to the year before, dropping from roughly 56 grants worth $26.2 million dollars in 2016 to 39 grants worth $7.5 million dollars in 2017. Nine states — Rhode Island, New York, Wyoming, New Jersey, Alabama, Iowa, Arizona, Hawaii and Maine — saw more than a 90 percent decline in reported funding, and 38 states saw their reported funding slashed by more than half. Every state analyzed saw double-digit percent declines,” wrote Carper.

“It appears from the analysis conducted by my staff that EPA is either not awarding the money Congress appropriated, or it is not reporting this data to the publicly searchable database as required by law, or both,” wrote Carper.

Today’s letter follows a letter Carper sent to EPA in August questioning a change within the agency to subject hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of competitive grant solicitations to review by political appointees, as reported by E&E News and The Washington Post. EPA has yet to respond to Carper’s August inquiry.

The text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2BI02Yv.