Frank Tursi of the NC Coastal Federation broke the story on Monday Morning that the McCrory administration’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has turned down two 2013 grants for which it applied, and which were awarded to the state by US EPA. The grants, totaling nearly $600,000, were selected for approval in a competitive application process. The EPA grant program is intended to build the capacity of state agency to effectively address water quality challenges.
From Mr. Tursi's article:
RALEIGH – Saying they don’t need the money to meet their new mission, state environmental officials recently turned down almost $600,000 in federal grants. The money would have been used to set up a network of sites to begin testing streams in the Piedmont where natural gas production is likely to occur and to establish a long-term planning and monitoring program to protect wetlands.The N.C. Division of Water Resources declined the two Wetlands Program Development Grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, though the state had applied for them and was notified in June that the money would be distributed later this year.It’s the first time a state in EPA's Southeast region has refused a grant since the program started in 1996, an agency spokesperson in Atlanta said. North Carolina could be the only state in the country to ever decline the grants.The state decided to turn the money down, noted Tom Reeder, the division’s director, because it isn’t needed to meet the division’s revamped mission set out by its new boss, John Skvarla.Appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, Skvarla this year took over as head of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR. Reeder’s division is part of the department.“Secretary Skvarla has emphasized on numerous occasions since he arrived at DENR that the department will diligently comply with both the letter and spirit of all federal and state laws, regulations and mandates that the division is tasked to implement,” Reeder explained. “Quite simply, the grants were not needed for the division to meet our core mission. We will diligently meet our mandates under state and federal law, and these grants aren’t needed to do that. We’re simply slimming down.”