2 years ago

Audit says EPA used propaganda to advance Clean Water Act Rule

By M. Reed Hopper Senior Attorney

When the EPA proposed its overly-broad rule redefining “waters of the United States,” we noted here and here the EPA’s Administrator’s absurd claims that the new rule would not expand federal authority and would ease the regulatory burden on landowners.  We also noted here that EPA rammed the rule through the rule-making process over the objections of the Army Corps, the putative co-authors of the new rule. Then, we documented our opinion that the so-called WOTUS rule violated the Clean Water Act, Supreme Court precedent, and even the Constitution.  And, we reported here that we had filed suit against the EPA for violating the law, along with 60 other plaintiffs and 31 states. Not long after these suits were filed, we posted here that two separate courts had stayed the rule and held the WOTUS rule likely was invalid on statutory and constitutional grounds, as we had predicted.  Now, we hear that the EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” to drum up support for the rule in violation of the law.

The New York Times published an article today that reveals the damning results of a GAO audit of the EPA’s surreptitious practice of using social media to influence public opinion and to urge lobbying on the agency’s behalf.  According to the article, EPA violated two laws:

Federal agencies are allowed to promote their own policies, but they are not allowed to engage in propaganda, which means covert activity intended to influence the American public. They also are not allowed to use federal resources to conduct so-called grass-roots lobbying — urging the American public to contact Congress to take a certain kind of action on pending legislation.

Violating the law to push a political agenda appears to be the new normal for too many government agencies, like the EPA.  You can read the sordid details in the GAO report here.

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