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The Government Accountability Office finds the Epa violated propaganda law in promoting the Clean Water Act

December 14, 2015

  EPAThe EPA has been in the midst of creating new regulations regarding surface water that critics claim is an example of government overreach which could allow the agency to regulate puddles and streams on private property, and at least one Federal judge agreed with that assessment. The new rule came under such scrutiny that the EPA took to social media in an attempt to defend the new rule.

  This campaign by the EPA to gain support for the new regulation drew claims of foul play and even the New York Times issued a report which called attention to this public relations blitz. 

  Today the Government Accountability Office released a report which found the EPA did indeed violate propaganda laws with its aggressive social media campaign.

  Here is more:

The Environmental Protection Agency engaged in “covert propaganda” and violated federal law when it blitzed social media to urge the public to back an Obama administration rule intended to better protect the nation’s streams and surface waters, congressional auditors have concluded.

The ruling by the Government Accountability Office, which opened its investigation after a report on the agency’s practices in The New York Times, drew a bright line for federal agencies experimenting with social media about the perils of going too far to push a cause. Federal laws prohibit agencies from engaging in lobbying and propaganda.

  This ruling was lauded by those who have been fighting the EPA on this:

“G.A.O.’s finding confirms what I have long suspected, that E.P.A. will go to extreme lengths and even violate the law to promote its activist environmental agenda,” Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and is pressing to block the rule, said in a statement Monday. He decried “E.P.A.’s illegal attempts to manufacture public support for its Waters of the United States rule and sway congressional opinion.”

  But of course the EPA is denying it did anything wrong:

An E.P.A. official on Tuesday disputed the finding. “We use social media tools just like all organizations to stay connected and inform people across the country about our activities,” Liz Purchia, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement. “At no point did the E.P.A. encourage the public to contact Congress or any state legislature.”

    One man’s propaganda is another man’s attempt at informing the public…

  There is no doubt in my mind that the EPA was trying to shape public opinion and not simply trying to inform the public however I have to admit this report caught me by surprise because there is a thin line between trying to give the American people information and trying to influence how the American people think and I never thought this ruling was coming.

  Here is more:

Federal agencies are allowed to promote their own policies, but are not allowed to engage in propaganda, defined as 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.

As it promoted the Waters of the United States rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, the E.P.A. violated both of those prohibitions, a 26-page legal opinion signed by Susan A. Poling, the general counsel to the G.A.O., concluded in an investigation requested by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“E.P.A. appealed to the public to contact Congress in opposition to pending legislation in violation of the grass-roots lobbying prohibition,” the report says.

  The GAO has determined that the EPA crossed that thin line and this could affect how the government uses Facebook and Twitter to promote its agenda on various issues in the future if the agency is held accountable. The question is, will the EPA be held accountable?

  It is no secret that social media can be a great tool which can be used by the government to change public opinion on issues if it is used for that purpose and in this case it appears as if that is what happened. This report is not going to change the past but it could influence how the government uses social media in the future, but only if there are consequences for violating propaganda laws and honestly I do not see this amounting to anything because nobody will be held accountable, the beat will go on…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2015 12:22 pm

    That type of scheming worked for the UnAffordable Health UnCare so why not for the EPA! They’re toxic!


    • December 15, 2015 7:56 pm

      Pretty much the way the whole government works nowadays, isn’t it?!

      Liked by 1 person


  1. The Government Accountability Office finds the Epa violated propaganda law in promoting the Clean Water Act | Rifleman III Journal

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