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AROUND THE WATCHDOGS: Taxpayers Protection Alliance probes GSA, green group ties

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Photo - A taxpayer watchdog group wants to know more about the federal government's dealings with a tax-exempt foundation pushing green construction standards for structures like Manhattan's forest of high-rises seen in this aerial photo, Tuesday, April 20, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A taxpayer watchdog group wants to know more about the federal government's dealings with a tax-exempt foundation pushing green construction standards for structures like Manhattan's forest of high-rises seen in this aerial photo, Tuesday, April 20, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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Officials with the Taxpayer Protection Alliance want to know more about the relationship between the General Services Administration and the U.S. Green Building Council, and whether the latter is profiting from their connections.

The TPA filed three Freedom of Information Act requests with GSA seeking copies of all emails between the government and the USGBC, as well as copies of all GSA documents that contain the latter's name.

The GSA is the federal government's housekeeping agency, leasing and maintaining all federal buildings and buying billions of dollars of office equipment and supplies for the federal bureaucracy.

The USGBC is a tax-exempt education foundation that describes itself as "committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings."

At the center of the relationship between GSA and the USGBC is the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) green building certification system, which is like a Good HouseKeeping seal of approval for the architectural and building construction industries. The LEED standards were mandated by GSA in 2010 for all new federal buildings.

The USGBC calls the LEED system as the group's primary tool for "market transformation."

David Williams, TPA's president, said his group filed its three FOIAs because the latest version of LEED "is filled with arbitrary and requirements that pick winners in losers in the marketplace. The USGBC seems to have undue influence in mandating LEED standards and now TPA wants answers."

"We're trying to see if there is a connection between the U.S. Green Building Council, a 501(c)3, that is benefitting financially from these new standards," Williams told the Daily Caller, "to get to the genesis of these LEED standards and see exactly just how much influence this nonprofit had."

Go here for more information from TPA and here for more information from the USGBC.

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