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Landmark Calls for Probe into EPA Grants to Nature Conservancy

May 15, 2003 11:54

HERNDON, Va., May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Landmark Legal Foundation has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate whether millions of dollars in agency grants to the Nature Conservancy and its state affiliates -- the nation's largest environmental organization with assets of more than $3 billion -- were misused. The Foundation has also asked the agency to suspend current and future grant payments to the group pending the outcome of the investigation.

Landmark asked EPA to ensure that none of the more than $10 million in EPA grants received by the Conservancy between 1993 and 2002 were used for purposes other than those for which they were originally intended. According to a recent series of articles in the Washington Post, the Nature Conservancy spent millions to purchase parcels of undeveloped land and then resold the land to Conservancy backers and officials at greatly discounted prices, in exchange for limitations on future development of the land. The Conservancy also spent tens of millions of dollars on commercial and residential land development projects, oil and gas drilling and other ventures.

"It's becoming increasingly apparent that one of the resources the Nature Conservancy actually conserves is questionable behavior," explained Landmark President Mark R. Levin. "And as one of the EPA's most frequent grant recipients, we want the agency to ensure that taxpayer funds aren't finding their way into sweetheart deals for Conservancy directors or other losing business ventures."

Landmark maintains the most comprehensive, searchable database of information on federal environmental grants to nonprofit organizations on the Internet. Since 2001, the Foundation has gathered information from the EPA, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service on grants made by those agencies to 501(c) nonprofit groups since 1993. Landmark's database can be accessed at http://www.landmarklegal.org .

"In compiling our database we've learned a number of startling things about the EPA's grants to nonprofits," Levin explained. "First, the EPA did not competitively bid these grants. Second, there were no outside review panels to determine the merit of grant applications; and third, there was no effective system to oversee the proper management of these grants. The EPA needs to determine whether taxpayer funds were used properly by the Nature Conservancy."

Founded in 1976, Landmark Legal Foundation is one of the nation's top conservative public interest law firms. The Foundation has won precedent- setting legal victories in the areas of environmental accountability, education reform and holding public officials accountable for their actions. Landmark has offices in Kansas City, MO and Herndon, VA.

SOURCE Landmark Legal Foundation

/CONTACT: Eric Christensen of Landmark Legal Foundation, +1-703-689-2370,
fax: +1-703-689-2373, info@landmarklegal.org/

/Web site: http://www.landmarklegal.org/






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