Stop the presses, so-called free money from the government has actually been refused.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources turned down two federal grants — totaling $582,305 — that would have been used to study streams and wetlands in the state.

An editorial in the Charlotte Observer decried the refusal of funds as “recklessly irresponsible,” saying one of the grants could have provided in-depth analysis of hydraulic fracturing in the state.

“Division of Water Resources director Tom Reeder says there still will be testing at fracking sites, because N.C. law requires it,” the Observer board admitted. “But the law, which was drawn up by a Republican-led legislature, doesn’t require the thoroughness of testing that the [Environmental Protection Agency] grant would have provided.”

In a rare occurrence, a state rejected federal money for insignificant studies. North Carolina should be praised for its decision, according to Nick Loris, research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

"North Carolina’s decision should be the model for how environmental decisions are made nationwide," Loris said. "States have a much better understanding of where environmental priorities lie and know how to allocate resources most effectively."

Loris also decried mismanagement of taxpayer funds, saying that the grants offered to North Carolina were "another example of federal bureaucrats wastefully mismanaging taxpayer money" and "a clear indicator that many federal decisions should be devolved to the states."