A former Trump campaign aide is now vetting hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money the EPA gives out to worthy environmental science and projects each year. It could mean that thousands of science projects are in jeopardy under the Trump administration.
John Konkus—a public relations expert who chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in Florida’s Leon County—has told agency staff he’s scrubbing climate change “the double C-word” from projects the EPA funds, according to The Washington Post.
In late August the energy and environment website E&E News revealed a directive from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt instructing all grants to be routed to Konkus. If Konkus “has any concerns, comments, or questions on the solicitation,” it reads, he will intervene in the grant process.
Konkus’ title at the agency is deputy associate administrator for public affairs, placing him in the EPA’s communications department. From 2013 to December 2016 he served as executive vice president at the political consultancy Jamestown Associates. Konkus joined the EPA in early February after acting as Pruitt’s “sherpa” during his confirmation hearings.
President Donald Trump, Pruitt has questioned the very existence of climate change and whether it is man made. President Donald Trump outlined his plan to cut $2.4 billion from the EPA’s budget in 2018 last March. About half of the agency’s annual $8 billion budget goes to grants.
Konkus is now making decisions about which scientific projects are worthy of funding. So far he has cancelled nearly $2 million for university and nonprofit organization projects.
An EPA spokeswoman pointed out to The Post that the figure represents just 1 percent of grants that have been given since…