The Raleigh News Observer reports that the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources is paying a Maryland company, EBX, nearly $1 million for pollution mitigation work that the company had already done and for which it had already been paid $1.8 million.
This year, state environmental officials agreed to pay a Maryland company nearly $1 million for its work to help rid the Neuse River Basin of tons of nitrogen, which pollutes drinking water.We should all be so lucky to get paid twice for the same work.
Here's the catch for North Carolina taxpayers: The state Department of Transportation paid $1.8 million for the same work several years ago. Yet the new deal appears to be legal.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources entered into a $911,000 contract with EBX to remove more than 100,000 pounds of nitrogen during the next 30 years from the Neuse basin, the water source for many communities in the region, and to restore a Neuse tributary.
EBX won the contract with a bid lower than its competitors. The other contractors soon realized why: EBX was claiming the nitrogen reductions from two sites created several years earlier in Johnston and Wayne counties. The two sites were part of $11 million in contracts from the N.C. Department of Transportation in 2000 and 2002 to replace wetlands and streams destroyed for road projects.
The $911,000 would not create a new wetland or a patch of vegetation to absorb nitrogen runoff, which has been linked to fish kills and algae blooms in one of the nation's most endangered rivers. EBX would collect the money for administrative work and for continued monitoring at its existing sites.
EBX might not quite be making double the money, but it is making a mint.
Maybe EBX can claim these swamps, er, I mean wetlands, as carbon offsets and collect even more money.