JUNE 19, 2009
A costly, stimulus-funded program to make low-income houses energy efficient has virtually no oversight and stands to waste billions of U.S. tax dollars nationwide.
One of the many questionable projects to be funded by President Obama’s massive $787 billion stimulus bill is a multi billion-dollar “weatherization” plan that will provide free insulation, sealing, and even new central heating and cooling systems, for low-income homeowners around the country.
The federal weatherization program for the poor has actually been around for decades but the government has never given it such a huge amount of money at once. In fact, the program used to receive about $220 million annually before George W. Bush nixed its funding last year to focus resources on advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Under Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, promised to jumpstart the economy and create millions of jobs, weatherization will get $5 billion. The U.S. Department of Energy awards the money to local social service agencies, or “community groups,” throughout the country that later contract companies to do the actual work. Such a huge injection of federal dollars into a virtually unmonitored program clearly makes it vulnerable to fraud and abuse as has been the case with many welfare projects.
Texas alone will get $327 million over the next two years to help cut poor families’ utility bills by "weatherizing" and North Carolina will get $132 million during the next three years. Officials there admit there is little oversight of the massive influx of federal funds for weatherization and they are scrambling to assure the money is spent properly, according to a news report.
Earlier this week a U.S. Senator published the findings of an investigation revealing that at least $5.5 billion of the Obama Administration’s controversial stimulus effort have gone to wasteful projects. Among them is a $3 million turtle crossing in northern Florida, the $10 million renovation of an abandoned train station that has been shut for three decades and 10,000 dead people getting Social Security stimulus checks.
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