This week, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works heard testimony from Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanan regarding the EPA’s unlawful efforts to influence public opinion during review of the then-proposed Waters of the United States rule. Implementation of the rule has been stayed pending litigation in the federal courts system.
“From our perspective, EPA did use covert propaganda to mislead the public and violate the anti-lobbying act and was more focused on promoting a flawed WOTUS rule than keeping an open mind, or hearing good faith concerns with their proposal. Farmers and ranchers deserve better when important matters of public policy are discussed and are at stake,” Buchanan said.
Critics say EPA’s use of propaganda, public relations and social media campaigns misled a broader public audience who had little or no understanding of what they were being asked to support. Federal law forbids agencies from acting as anything but neutral observers once they have issued proposed regulations for comment.
“EPA later claimed public support for their rule, even though the vast majority of those who actually read the rule, state and local governments, businesses and organizations representing virtually every segment of the U.S. economy vehemently opposed it.”
Buchanan says agencies ignored an important regulatory safeguard for small businesses by improperly certifying the WOTUS rule under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The RFA requires federal agencies to review regulations for their impact on small businesses and consider less burdensome alternatives.
“Congress should hold the agencies accountable for ignoring the requirements of the RFA and for openly showing their contempt for small entities by characterizing their concerns about this proposal as silly and ludicrous.”