Leading whistleblower advocacy organization the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) is urging Congress to pass The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act and advocating that lawmakers include whistleblower protections for climate and environmental whistleblowers.
The CLEAN Future Act was introduced on March 2 by members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) introduced the Act, which the Energy and Commerce Committee press release describes as “ambitious new climate legislation that ensures the United States acts aggressively to tackle the climate crisis this decade and achieve net zero greenhouse gas pollution.”
The CLEAN Future Act “formally adopts the goal of achieving of a 100 percent clean economy by 2050 and “seeks significant reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other harmful toxic pollutants in all communities…all while providing flexibility to respond to changing market conditions and technological advances,” a Committee memo states. NWC states that the bill “would authorize over $565 billion over ten years to rebuild and modernize America’s infrastructure – with significant funding aimed at workers and communities who have been disproportionally impacted by pollution.”
However, NWC notes that “our long history with federal funding has proven that bad actors will try to take advantage of this assistance.” The whistleblower advocacy group urges Congress to “take the climate crisis seriously and include whistleblower provisions modeled off the successful Dodd-Frank Act to protect spending and ensure compliance with environmental standards.”
The Dodd-Frank Act was passed in 2010 as a Wall Street reform bill and established both the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Whistleblower Program and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Whistleblower Program. Both programs have been incredibly successful since their establishment and offer whistleblower rewards and protections from retaliation.
“In fiscal year 2020, the CFTC received over 1,000 formal whistleblower complaints, dwarfing the 58 complaints received in the program’s first full year,” according to previous WNN reporting. Recently, the Senate had to step in and save the CFTC Whistleblower Program from its own success. In the same vein, the SEC Whistleblower Program had a record year in fiscal year 2020. On November 16, 2020, the SEC reported that fiscal year 2020 was record-setting in the “number of whistleblower tips received, the number of whistleblower award claims processed, the number of whistleblowers rewarded, and the total dollar amount of whistleblower awards issued.” As of June 2, 2021, the SEC has awarded a whopping total of more than $928 million to 166 whistleblowers since the first award was issued in 2012. Since the 2021 fiscal year began alone, “the SEC has awarded approximately $366 million to 60 individuals,” which are both new fiscal year records.
NWC urges individuals to “tell Congress to ensure climate whistleblowers are protected under the CLEAN Future Act. Without whistleblowers, this needed piece of climate legislation will become another source of income for bad actors.”
“Protecting climate whistleblowers is critical to the success of environmental protection programs,” said Siri Nelson, NWC’s Executive Director. “Without strong whistleblower protections, government programs like the Clean Future Act will be seen as magnets for fraud.”