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Senators Inhofe and Roberts Demand Answers of EPA Over Ad Campaign Accusing Farmers of Polluting Waters in Washington State

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 10:49:07 CDT

Senators Inhofe and Roberts Demand Answers of EPA Over Ad Campaign Accusing Farmers of Polluting Waters in Washington State U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, today sent a letter to Arthur A. Elkins, Jr., the inspector general of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requesting an audit and investigation of an EPA grant to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission 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.

“We are troubled to learn that EPA’s financial assistance appears to improperly fund an advocacy campaign in Washington state that unfairly targets and demonizes farmers and ranchers. According to a recent news report, the EPA-funded advocacy campaign includes multiple billboards, bus placards, and an interactive website urging the public to contact state lawmakers. The website assists the public in contacting lawmakers by providing a pre-written email criticizing the actions of agricultural producers and blaming them for polluting local waterways. Further, the billboards and placards do not cite EPA as a funding source of the campaign. According to an EPA Region 10 official, the failure to attribute EPA as the source of the funding ‘looks like a violation’,” the Senators said.

“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.”

“This Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission grant appears to be part of a broader war on farmers and rural communities that the Obama Administration, through the EPA, has been waging in concert with its allies in the environmental activist community. It is imperative we learn whether EPA officials are turning a blind eye to this deceptive wrongdoing, and why the administration did not perform the necessary oversight to confirm taxpayer dollars are not mismanaged, and ensure well-established and important federal restrictions against lobbying are being followed,” the Senators concluded.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

At the request of Inhofe, the Government Accountability Office issued a legal determination in December 2015 that found EPA had violated the Antideficiency Act and congressional bans against using federal funds for grassroots lobbying and covert propaganda.

A group that calls itself "Save Family Farming" has been actively pushing back against the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and their campaign and website, What's Upstream?" that the group says has been designed to damage the reputation of family farmers in Washington state. On their website, they say farmers are being held accountable- and are doing the right thing- "The frequent references in this website and in the attacks on dairy farming from Western Environmental Law Center say dairy farmers are not regulated. Not true. The 1998 Dairy Nutrient Management Act is one of the strongest sets of regulations in the nation. It requires all dairy farms to submit farm plans that control proper application of manure nutrients. It stipulates zero discharge. The good news is that these regulations are working. Water quality testing compiled by Ecology shows a dramatic reduction in fecal coliform following the implementation of this law."

Click here to jump over to the "save Family Farming" website to read more.



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