Waste, Violations in $25 Mil Program to Fight Climate Change in Guatemala
MAY 05, 2016
A $25 million project to help Guatemala combat the ills of climate change is rife with problems that include data errors and discrepancies, no sustainability plan as required by the government and security and funding violations. Though it constitutes an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars, this is par for the course with virtually all of the Obama administration’s “green” ventures, which have largely failed after getting hundreds of millions in federal funds. Among them is a fly-by-night solar panel company (Solyndra) that went under after getting $535 million from the feds and an electric car company (Fisker) that also folded after the government gave it $200 million.
This one is officially known as Climate Nature and Communities in Guatemala (CNCG) and it’s a tiny slice of the president’s broad and costly initiative to conquer global warming in developing nations. The goal is to conserve Guatemala’s wealth of natural resources and support the country’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Since the U.S. launched CNCG in 2013, nearly half of the money allocated has been disbursed to a New York-based nonprofit called Rainforest Alliance that oversees a consortium of environmental, academic and business institutions. This group gets a lot of money from Uncle Sam for its various biodiversity conservation causes and, not surprisingly, there’s lots of waste and mismanagement.
In the Guatemala program the issues are documented in a federal audit that blasts Rainforest Alliance for violating government funding rules by, among other things, failing to contribute its share of costs under this contract. Under the arrangement, the U.S. gives the nonprofit $25 million and it agrees to contribute $3.75 as “cost sharing.” The group’s portion must come from in-kind contributions or other sources but can’t come from the government. The audit reveals that Rainforest Alliance claimed it met its cost sharing obligations in the Guatemala program with cash it received from the government under a different deal for firefighting. “Including the firefighting funds as part of cost sharing has resulted in overstating the actual cost share amount by $26,708,” the audit says. “Lack of monitoring by the implementer and the mission can lead to reporting inaccurate information and prevent them from complying with the agreement.”
Additionally, the data compiled in the first two years of the Guatemala project contain a number of errors or discrepancies and auditors determined that much of the information is “inaccurate or lacked sufficient support.” The environmentalists also failed to develop a sustainability plan as required by the government to carry on program efforts after the five-year federal funding period expired. “Two years into implementation, no plan existed,” auditors write in the report, further pointing out that “without a sustainability plan, the funds used to help the Guatemalan Government and other partners manage the country’s natural resources to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change could be wasted.” As if all this weren’t bad enough participants didn’t undergo required background checks, a violation of government rules put in place to ensure that no criminals receive training funded with federal money.
This is just a snippet of the pervasive fraud and corruption in the vast majority of the administration’s green initiatives. Besides failed domestic programs like the ones mentioned earlier, the U.S. has spent billions to fight global warming in poor countries, mainly through a program known as Global Climate Change Initiative. The cash keeps flowing into its coffers because the administration claims that climate change is one of the century’s greatest challenges that can compound pre-existing social stresses, including poverty, hunger, conflict, migration and the spread of disease. The U.S. also contributes to climate change causes via a multi-billion-dollar World Bank initiative to combat its effects in poor and African and Asian countries that stand to suffer most. The U.S. is the World Bank’s largest contributor so Americans are getting stuck with a huge chunk of that tab.
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