Auditor: EPA broke the law in social media campaign to push water rule
For the fourth time this year, the Environmental Protection Agency has been accused of breaking laws governing its operations.
Last July, the agency was accused of colluding with left wing environmental groups to push its new carbon regulations. In October, a federal appeals court said the EPA broke the law when it illegally approved a pesticide.
In August, the EPA was responsible for a toxic spill at an abandoned mine that polluted rivers in three states.
Now the Government Accountability Office reports that the agency's social media blitz to approve the new rules governing the protection of just about every acre of water in the country violated strictures against lobbying.
The EPA's campaign violated restrictions against lobbying and propaganda by federal agencies, the Government Accountability Office said in a 26-page report. The agency blitzed social media in a campaign that urged the public to submit comments on the draft water rule. The effort reached at least 1.8 million people.
Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said the GAO finding confirms what he has long suspected: "that EPA will go to extreme lengths and even violate the law to promote its activist environmental agenda."
The Obama administration says the water rule will safeguard drinking water for 117 million Americans, but Republicans and a handful of Democrats from rural states say they fear a steady uptick in federal regulation of every stream and ditch. Inhofe and other lawmakers have vowed to block the rule as an example of overreach by the Obama administration.
Federal courts have already put the regulations on hold as they consider a number of lawsuits challenging the water regulations. The rules clarify which smaller waterways fall under federal protection after two Supreme Court rulings left the reach of the Clean Water Act uncertain. Those decisions in 2001 and 2006 left 60 percent of the nation's streams and millions of acres of wetlands without clear federal protection, according to the EPA, causing confusion for landowners and government officials.
More than half the states have filed legal challenges.
The EPA said in a statement that it disagrees with the GAO's assessment, but will fulfill whatever reporting requirements are necessary.
"We maintain that using social media to educate the public about our work is an integral part of our mission," the agency's statement said. "We use social media tools just like all organizations to stay connected and inform people across the country about our activities."
No one has been arrested for any of this lawbreaking. No one has appeared in court. No one has been convicted. No one has gone to jail. No one has even been fired.
Just what the hell do we have these laws for if they aren't enforced?
They EPA could give a flying fig for the law, as they've demonstrated numerous times over the years. That goes for the rest of the agencies, including Homeland Security, where Secretary Jeh Johnson, who refused to allow scrutiny of social media when examining visa applications. The list is endless: IRS, DoJ, the Pentagon, HHS – rules and regulations telling the bureaucracy what it can and cannot do are flouted with impunity.
This has bred a cyncial populace who looks for shortcuts and ways to cheat when it comes to everything from paying taxes to gaming the Medicare system.
The EPA will say they're sorry for violating the law, and business as usual will reign. Meanwhile, government tentacles continue to worm their way into our lives with no sign that even if laws were passed to control them, those laws will be obeyed.