WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just suffered its second setback in its attempt to implement stricter rules for protecting waters and wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act.
In a 26-page ruling, the federal General Accounting Office (GAO) said that the EPA’s use of social media to promote the proposed rules violated a prohibition on federal agencies engaging in grassroots lobbying.
“The critical element of covert propaganda is the agency’s concealment from the target audience of its role in creating the material,” GAO reported.
In October 2015, a federal court blocked the agency from implementing the rules after they were challenged by 18 states. In addition, the Republican-led House of Representatives has been pursuing Congressional blockage of the controversial measures.
Environmentalists insist new rules are needed because court decisions have weakened protections, while property rights advocates argue that EPA would use the stronger rules to overreach its authority and that protections are sufficient now.
Bob Wendelgass of Clean Water Action said the proposed rules are “taking the way the Clean Water Act works back, so that it works the way water works in the real world.”