By Fred Lucas
(CNSNews.com) – The Environmental Protection Agency has given at least $1,285,535 in grants to China to promote environmental research in the country.
In all, the EPA issued six grants that went to China, most of which pertained to researching methane in Chinese coal mines and reducing carbon emissions in China, a communist dictatorship long criticized by human rights groups. Two of those grants were awarded during the Bush administration; four were awarded during the Obama administration.
The issue, at a time of mounting debt and deficits, is about fiscal responsibility, said Robert Gordon, senior advisor for strategic outreach for the Heritage Foundation, who has closely monitored EPA grants, and recently wrote a piece criticizing the Chinese grants.
“I’m just not sure that the EPA has addressed all the things it’s supposed to be doing here in the best manner possible before they’re spending money overseas,” Gordon told CNSNews.com. “At the end of the day, we’re spending money that we don’t have and on things we shouldn’t be spending it on if we had it.”
The grants to China were awarded through the EPA’s Coalbed Methane Outreach Program (CMOP). Since 1994, CMOP has worked cooperatively with the coal industry in the U.S. and internationally to reduce coal mining methane emissions, according to the EPA.
“U.S. companies are in the forefront of coal mine methane recovery and utilization. CMOP plays a lead role in bringing Chinese delegations to meet American companies, as well as connecting U.S. companies with CMM [coal mining methane] project opportunities in China,” the EPA told CNSNews.com in a statement responding to questions about the grants.
“Due to the large energy demand in China, many US companies are expanding their sales and operations there. These include coal companies (such as Peabody and Arch Coal), equipment manufacturers (such as Caterpillar and Megtec), and service providers (such as drilling companies, geologists and engineering firms),” EPA added.
The EPA statement continues, “By helping to identify and implement methods to recover and use CMM instead of emitting it to the atmosphere, CMOP reduces global greenhouse gas emissions while providing economic benefits both at home and abroad.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a long-time critic of the human rights record in China, did not single out the EPA, but said the entire federal government should make grants contingent on human rights progress.
“I hope with China we would make human rights, especially gendercide and forced abortion, torture, their ongoing squashing of religious freedom and the torture, often to death of people of faith simply because of their belief in God, that we would condition all of our grants with China because China has actually gotten demonstrably worse in the last several years,” Smith told CNSNews.com.
“I think after [Chinese President] Hu Jintao’s visit, they feel the U.S. has lost its voice in human rights,” Smith continued. “Certainly President Obama did. We now have these human rights dialogues which are sideshows and good talking points. They do not produce tangible results.”
The largest EPA grant was for $290,000 for a project that began on Jan. 1, 2010 and is estimated to end on Dec. 31, 2014.
The project description says the grant is to: “Strengthen China’s capacity to improve performance in 5 areas of environmental management: (1) air; (2) water; (3) toxic chemicals; (4) hazardous, medical and solid waste; and (5) environmental law, implementation and enforcement,” the description said.
“For the initial funding, project is to pilot test one or more enforceable policies to enhance the effectiveness of a pollutant discharge fee program; to track mercury fate and transport, and reduce emissions, from coal-based vinyl chloride monomer production; and to identify policies that promote/enable the development of a solid waste treatment industry,” it said.
Another grant for $230,000 went to the China Association of Rural Energy Industry. The project began in Aug. 1, 2007 and ended Jan. 31, 2011.
“The China Association of Rural Energy Industry will help 100,000 Chinese adopt cleaner technologies that improve health while protecting the environment (reducing deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions),” the EPA grant description said.
EPA issued a grant of $210,000 to the International Cooperation Center for Environmental Protection for a Chinese project funded from Sept. 1, 2009 through Feb. 28, 2011.
“This project will build on the previous successes of the Guizhou International Cooperation Center for Environmental Protection (GZICCEP) in promoting methane capture and use in Guizhou, China,” the EPA project description said.
“The GZICCEP will promote the recovery and utilization of coal mine methane (CMM) in Guizhou Province, China, and develop two pre-feasibility studies that can be used by the host coal mines to develop into full feasibility studies for project financing and implementation. The results of the prefeasibility studies will provide a valuable reference for other Chinese coal mines interested in developing CMM projects,” it added.
The EPA further proved a grant of $199,805 to the China University of Petroleum in Beijing and the Jincheng Anthracite Coal Mining Group in Shanxi Province for the period beginning July 1, 2009 and ending on June 30, 2011.
“The China University of Petroleum, Beijing will partner with the Jincheng Anthracite Coal Mining Group in Shanxi Province to analyze the efficiency of its existing Coal Mining and Methane recovery projects and develop a series of recommendations to enhance methane recovery and reduce emissions in its mines,” the EPA project description said.
“The resulting recommendations and lessons learned can be used as a template for other Chinese coal mines to implement Coal Mining and Methane projects. The University will also promote the recovery and utilization of methane in China by serving as a central repository for Coal Mining and Methane information in Shanxi Province, and will conduct CO2 sequestration modeling,” it added.
EPA issued a grant of $180,000 to the China Coal Information Institute for a project that started July 15, 2009 and concluding on June 15, 2011.
“The China Coal Information Institute (CCII) will conduct an analysis of Coal Mine Methane (CMM) utilization technologies used in Chinese coal mines, examine the efficiencies of these technologies and assess their CO2 reduction benefits,” the EPA description said.
“The goals of the project are to improve CMM recovery and utilization technologies that currently are being used in China. CCII will develop and disseminate a CMM drainage technical model and gas utilization tool for Chinese coal mines. This project will raise the visibility of CMM recovery and utilization technologies adopted in China (including VAM utilization) and provide recommendations for improvement,” it added.
The least expensive grant was for $175,000 for a Chinese project that began on Aug. 1, 2008 and ended on March 1, 2011.
“The overall objective of this project is to reduce methane emissions and to maximize energy recovery from existing landfills in China,” the project description said. “Feasibility studies allow for assessing the energy potential methane reductions from a given landfill and can lead to landfill gas to energy project development. Landfill gas to energy projects both reduce methane, a greenhouse gas, and have positive impacts on local air quality.”