Sunday, April 10, 2016

EPA-Funded Shenanigans

The EPA has had some image issues lately on the agriculture front. Back in December the Government Accountability Office (GAO) "concluded that the EPA violated express limits on the use of appropriations for indirect or grassroots lobbying, and that in doing so, the agency violated the Antideficiency Act." A regulatory agency using federal funds for "grassroots lobbying" is pretty despicable in my mind but it provides more evidence that the public interest theory of regulation has some serious problems.

The EPA was back in the news recently thanks to a similar oversight. Apparently "an EPA grant to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission [was] used to support an anti-farmer advocacy campaign in Washington state.  The campaign included billboards and a website that support increased regulation of agriculture in Washington state."

My initial reaction was that this was likely to be just a simple oversight and that the EPA probably wasn't culpable. Maybe the grant was intended to fund education and the groups receiving money just went a little too far. The problem is that
It appears a large portion of the EPA financial assistance went to pay a public relations and lobbying firm, Strategies 360, to conduct an advocacy campaign called ‘What’s Upstream?’ in partnership with environmental activists, including Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and Western Environmental Law Center.
That could still be a simple oversight, but shouldn't the EPA be looking at regular grant reports to see where their money is going? I can't see how money going to a "public relations and lobbying firm" has anything to do with education.

I hope the folks at the EPA get their house in order. In my opinion, they're running the risk of drawing the ire of people who aren't necessarily interested in agriculture or cutting government spending but simply have a problem with fraud and abuse in federally-funded programs.

What do you think? Is all this overblown or is the EPA pushing an agenda?

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