NCBA investigates misuse of funds by EPAWritten by Saige Albert
Following the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Spring Legislative Conference, Scott Yager, NCBA’s environmental counsel, noted that he asked members to reach out to their representatives in Congress and ask for their support in a formal investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) latest campaign against the agriculture industry.
“There are a number of bus placards and billboards in the state of Washington that show cows standing in a stream,” Yager said. “It says unregulated agriculture is putting our waterways at risk.”
Yager continued that a flashy website accompanies the campaign, allowing visitors to submit an email letter to Washington state legislators, asking for their support for more highly regulated agriculture.
“It turns out, this whole campaign was funded by an EPA Region X federal grant,” he said. “Just to be clear, federal money is not supposed to be used for lobbying. It’s illegal.”
A $570,000 grant was funneled to a partnership between an environmental group and an Indian tribe in the state, who paid for the campaign.
“This clearly attempts to lobby the public and legislators to increase regulations of agriculture,” Yager added.
With the support of NCBA members, a letter from 145 members of the House of Representatives, drafted by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), was sent to EPA.
“Sens. Inhoff and Roberts also asked for a formal investigation, as did Rep. Mike Conaway,” Yager continued. “There was a big push to take down those billboards, as well as the bus placards and the lobbying component of the website.”
With the removal of the propaganda, Yager noted that steps are being taken in the right direction, but he also noted that there are a number of steps that must be taken still.
“Another big thing that has happened is the EPA Inspector General is going to initiate a formal investigation,” he said. “That will allow us to say what went wrong, if there was a violation and what we can do to fix it so it never happens again in the future.”
The trend from EPA, said Yager, seems to be one of EPA using – or misusing – federal monies to lobby.
“They can’t do that,” he added. “There is a Government Accountability Office legal opinion that states the EPA conducted improper lobbying and use of propaganda in the way that they solicited comments for the Waters of the U.S. rule.”
“This seems like round two of the same situation,” Yager said. “Federal money should be used for its intended purpose and not for lobbying purposes. We’re going to do everything we can do to make sure that happens.”