Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, questioned the Environmental Protection Agency’s signing of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Water-Gen, an Israeli company backed by Sheldon Adelson, after meetings between EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Water-Gen executives.
As reported by the Washington Post, Water-Gen’s technologies were supported by Adelson, a financial supporter of the Republican Attorney Generals Association; and Ed Russo, the U.S. CEO of Water-Gen and a long-time consultant to the Trump Organization. A draft itinerary of Pruitt’s scheduled, but canceled, trip to Israel, obtained by committee staff, outlines a planned public announcement of EPA’s Water-Gen CRADA.
“We write to request information regarding the manner in which EPA decided to sign a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Water-Gen, a company whose representatives you met with in Washington, D.C., at the request of Sheldon Adelson. Your planned (but canceled) February 2018 trip to Israel appears to have included a public announcement of EPA funding for Water-Gen. Sheldon Adelson, a longtime donor of Republican causes in which you been involved, brought this company to your attention in 2017. Mr. Adelson is the billionaire owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. with whom you are presumably acquainted from your tenure at the Republican Attorneys Generals Association. Las Vegas Sands gave RAGA $1,501,269 during the 2014 election cycle, and $755,000 during the 2016 election cycle,” the senators wrote.
A timeline of events included in the letter, along with public documents and information from former and current EPA officials, show the Water-Gen award process to be driven by Pruitt and influenced by individuals with financial stakes in the technology. For instance, the Water-Gen system was personally delivered to EPA’s Cincinnati office for evaluation by Water-Gen’s Russo.
EPA career staff was also instructed to justify the use of the Water-Gen system, which shows a use of EPA resources and taxpayer dollars to benefit specific businesses with ties to Pruitt.
“Following a meeting at EPA that included Albert ‘Kel’ Kelly, until recently your senior adviser, and other individuals in EPA’s Offices of General Counsel and Water, EPA’s Office of Research and Development was asked to fund a project to validate Water-Gen’s system for potential deployment in lieu of bottled water in disaster response or other scenarios because of your interest in the technology. EPA career staff did not understand what statutory authority existed for engaging in the validation of what they referred to as a ‘glorified de-humidifier’ or ‘magic water machine’ simply because you were interested in the technology,” the senators wrote.
The full text of the letter can be viewed at bit.ly/2HPcrxB.