In the name of job creation and clean energy, the Obama administration has doled out billions of dollars in stimulus money to some of the nation's biggest polluters and granted them sweeping exemptions from the most basic form of environmental oversight, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found. The administration has awarded more than 179,000 "categorical exclusions" to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Agency officials who granted the exemptions told the Center that they do not have time in most cases to review the environmental compliance records of stimulus recipients, and do not believe past violations should affect polluters' chances of winning stimulus money or the NEPA exclusions. The so-called "stimulus" funding came from the $787-billion legislation officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in February 2009.
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