Important information in this week' episode to stem fraudulent spending of climate money. As the federal and state governments begin to release large amounts of climate money, there will be areas of fraudulent spending by corporations and start ups. Fraud happens to almost every government endeavor that is going to spend large tranches of money. And most everyone in the climate efforts realizes that the climate money will have to be spent quickly because of the dire consequences of inaction. That is why oversight is so important because our country does not have the time or money to waste.
Often when a whistleblower or insider sees that the company is fraudulently spending money in a government contract, they don't really know where to go to report the fraud while protecting themselves. There is a federal law with similar laws in 29 states that allows anyone with original knowledge of the fraud, can sue the company on behalf of the federal or state government. Then the government decides if they want to join the case and settle or take the company to trial, the person that filed the case (called the relator) can get between 15-25 percent of the recovered money. If the government does not take the case, the relator can take the case through the courts on behalf of the government and get 25-30 percent of the recovered money. Since the federal qui tam law was rehabilitated in 1986, the federal government has recovered over $70 billion of fraudulently spend money.
Our guest in this podcast episode, attorney Josh Russ, has recently won $36 million in a jury trial brought by a relator. In this episode, we discuss qui tam law basics and explore how it can be used for climate and environmental money. Josh also explains how a relator can take a new strategy with the qui tam law which can include using standard federal environmental clauses in the climate money contracts. Climate advocates and dedicated people who work for companies getting climate contracts should listen and learn how the qui tam law can help stop fraudulent spending in the years ahead in climate spending.
Dina Rasor, executive director of Climate Money Watchdog, has extensive experience in investigating qui tam cases so if you think you might have a fraud case, please contact us in the Get in Touch tab on this website and we will review it and recommend how to proceed.
A former Assistant United States Attorney, Josh Russ is a principled and relentless advocate.
In 2013, after practicing healthcare regulation and litigation at a large corporate law firm, Josh joined the firm of Reese Marketos. During his time as an associate there, Josh tried a jury trial on behalf of a plaintiff financial firm involving debt owed to his client under multiple loan instruments. The case was settled just before closing arguments for more than $2 million. In addition, Josh represented two entrepreneurs in a commercial fraud and breach of contract matter that resulted in a favorable judgment for more than $5 million. The Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas affirmed the judgment in 2016.
In 2015, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas offered Josh the opportunity to serve the American public as the Eastern District’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Coordinator. In that role, Josh oversaw and directed most of the Eastern District’s False Claims Act and civil Controlled Substances Act investigations and litigation. In less than five years, Josh’s work contributed to the recovery of more than $85 million in settlements, suspensions, and judgments on behalf of American taxpayers, most of which involved enforcement of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act. Josh was also named the Eastern District’s Civil Healthcare Fraud Coordinator, where he worked to develop the district’s parallel proceedings practices in accordance with Department of Justice policy.
For his work, Josh was awarded the Executive Office of United States Attorneys Director’s Award for Superior Performance as a Civil Assistant US Attorney. Josh frequently lectured internally for the Department of Justice regarding the False Claims Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and parallel proceedings.
In 2018, at the age of 33, Josh was promoted to serve as the Eastern District’s Civil Chief. In that position, Josh supervised all civil litigation across the Eastern District’s six divisions: Sherman, Texarkana, Marshall, Tyler, Lufkin, and Beaumont. In addition to managing the Eastern District’s affirmative False Claims Act and civil Controlled Substances Act dockets, Josh supervised the district’s Financial Litigation Unit as well as defensive litigation against the United States, its agencies, and its personnel.
Josh’s highest priority as Civil Chief became fighting the nation’s devastating opioid crisis. He served as the co-chair of a national Prescription Interdiction and Litigation (PIL) Task Force working group.
In November 2019, Josh rejoined Reese Marketos as a partner, where he leads the firm’s Eastern District office and the firm’s False Claims Act practice.
Is the size and the potential danger of the CO2 transporting pipelines an Achilles heel for the vast Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects? Listen in this week's podcast episode to Kert Davies and the Climate Investigations Center investigation to hear their expose about a smaller CO2 pipeline explosion that could have devastated as small town. Also take a look that the massive proposed CCS pipeline map below and see the massive exposure these pipelines could have for the developing CCS projects.
Davies is the founder and director of Climate Investigations Center. He is a well-known researcher, media spokesperson and climate activist who has been conducting corporate accountability research and campaigns for more than 20 years.
Davies was the chief architect of the Greenpeace web project ExxonSecrets , launched in 2004, which helped expose the oil giant ExxonMobil’s funding of organizations and individuals who work to discredit the validity of climate science and delay climate policy action.
More recently, Davies appeared in the PBS Frontline series "The Power of Big Oil" and the Paramount Plus series "Black Gold".
Kert came to our attention through the publication of a report called CO2 Pipelines and Carbon Capture: The Satartia Mississippi Accident Investigation, which describes how a small town in Mississippi was nearly wiped out by a leak from a relatively small CO2 pipeline.
Kert describes how recent studies such as Princeton's Netzero America envision vastly larger pipelines, posing far greater threats.
Sean Moulton is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). We’ve invited Sean to discuss his recent report on how Increased Infrastructure Oversight Falls Short for the Biden Administration’s infrastructure law, while still being an important step forward. Sean explains how new oversight measures are implemented via executive order, which means they can easily be dismantled by future administrations, lacking the permanence and manifestation of consensus of legislation. Also, the new measures rely on executive branch officials accepting the advice of Inspectors General and fail to provide consistency across the multiple federal departments, state, county and local governments, and contracts, grants and loans across which trillions of infrastructure and climate money will be spent. These observations echo those in past podcasts by retired U.S. Treasury Inspector General Eric Thorson, and Contra Cost County Supervisor John Gioia.
Prior to POGO, Sean worked for over a decade on transparency and government accountability issues, leading the Center for Effective Government’s open government work for 13 years. The Center for Open Government, previously known as “OMB Watch”, pioneered making federal government spending visible to taxpayers through an online database. (“OMB” stands for Office of Management and Budget, an office within the White House that oversees the implementation of the President’s financial vision across the executive branch. OMB eventually licensed OMB Watch’s database technology to create usaspending.gov, a detailed, comprehensive and official accounting of federal government spending that’s open to the public.
For years, activists, scientists and politicians have fought to get enough federal funding to make a start to slow climate change and stop the incessant temperature climb of the planet. Although the job of getting money is far from done, the first large tranche of appropriated money from the infrastructure law is starting to be spent. This important money will only be effective if it is spent well and scandals and waste could affect the success of climate goals and deter future and follow-on appropriations. To do this correctly, there has to be strong and workable oversight structure either built into the legislation or established by the Executive Branch.
For this week's podcast episode, we are lucky to have Scott Amey from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). He is one of the best people in Washington DC on how to build effective oversight into government and what has worked or not worked over his decades of experience. Every climate activist and the politicians who support climate change legislation should listen to Scott so that the federal government can be pushed to do it s job and make sure the money is well spent on realistic and effective projects. The whole system that is spending this money, clear down to state and local governments, has to be pushed from the inside and outside the federal government to make it work the first time. Scott has seen it all and he talks frankly about his concerns of what can happen when well intended money is spent badly. (full disclosure: Dina Rasor is the founder and was the first director of POGO and serves on its board of directors and Greg Williams worked as an investigator at POGO)
Scott Amey is POGO’s general counsel and executive editorial director. In addition to organizational legal demands, he oversees the investigations, research and policy teams, the Center for Defense Information (CDI), and The Constitution Project (TCP). Scott also participates in contract oversight investigations, including reviews of federal spending on products and services, the responsibility of federal contractors, and conflicts-of-interest and ethics concerns. Scott is an attorney and can practice law in Maryland.
In October of 2021, Scott was asked to testify before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight and Subcommittee on Energy on best practices for federal spending. This podcast provides reflection on that testimony, and his decades of experience.
Scott's October 21, 2021 before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
The cost of installing an electric vehicle (EV) charger can vary from $400 to $150,000. Dave Mullaney of the Rocky Mountain Institute's Carbon-Free Mobility team takes us through their recent report - Reducing EV Charging Infrastructure Costs - to help us understand why, and how these costs can be reduced.
If you've ever installed an electric oven or clothes dryer where there wasn't one before, you have some idea what it's like to get the necessary 220 volt electrical source installed. Unless you've been involved in building a large factory, electrified rail line or commercial computing center, you probably don't know what it's like to get a megawatt or more of electrical infrastructure planned, funded, permitted and installed. Dave introduces us to some of what's involved and how we can make it less expensive, faster and more predictable.
Dave also explains why we should have different expectations for charging EV's than we have for fueling conventional gasoline and diesel powered cars. Whether you fill your tank all at once in a few minutes, or over several hours, it costs the same. Charging an EV is orders of magnitude less expensive if you do it overnight vs. all at once at the fastest available charging station. One the one hand, this will require big adjustments in people's expectations. On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice to wake up each morning to your car being fully charged, without having to go anywhere?