Devious operations adopted by Democrats are not limited to campaign officials and political activists, but extend deep into the Obama administration. A recent report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform details how the EPA gamed the regulatory process to ram a major water regulation through the Washington, D.C. bureaucratic maze to appease environmental activists.
The regulation, “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS), seeks to protect water quality by expanding the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to streams and wetlands that feed into larger bodies of water such as lakes and rivers, which serve as sources of drinking water.
The EPA jumped on confusing Supreme Court decisions regarding the 1972 Clean Water Act to broaden the definition of “navigable water” through rulemaking to control 60 percent of the water in the U.S.
With the expansion of its power, the EPA can reach into private property affecting farmers, ranchers, and home property development.
The Oversight Committee report exposes numerous examples of the way the EPA manipulated and twisted the rulemaking process.
Exhaustive evidence presented in the report clearly shows the EPA muscled the WOTUS rule at an accelerated pace for political reasons. According to the report, the new rule was a top priority and driven by the White House to keep a promise made to environmental activist groups.
The rush to regulate significantly deviated from the proper rulemaking process.
For example, the EPA did an end-run around the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) even though it shares regulatory responsibility under the Clean Water Act.
The report showed that the Corps was not included in the drafting of the rules’ almost 300-page preamble. The Corps was unaware when the EPA started to write the final rule, and it was not given drafts of the Economic Analysis or the Technical Support Document until after the final rule was sent to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (ORIA) for final clearance. Corps requests to the EPA to review aspects of the developing rule were ignored.
According to congressional testimony, the EPA cut the Corps out of the development of the Economic Analysis after it provided data relating to cost and benefits of the rule.
The Corps’ lack of input in WOTUS was so limited, Major General John Peabody objected to the Corps being listed as a co-author of the rule and wanted its logo removed.
ORIA rushed the approval through in 50 days, substantially shorter than the 90 days it is allowed before extensions, and much faster than its 2014 average of 127 days. The rushed timeline prevented adequate interagency review of the new regulation.
In addition to working the inside bureaucratic game, the EPA executed an outside propaganda campaign to advance the regulation.
Reminiscent of the way journalists colluded with the Clinton campaign, the EPA conspired with environmental activist groups to promote the new water rule.
The EPA worked with the Sierra Club on a social media campaign to generate positive statements about the rule for the public comment period. The campaign allowed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to testify about the popularity of the rule saying, “We have received over one million comments, and 87.1 percent of those comments we have counted so far — we are only missing 4,000 — are supportive of this rule.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report concluding the EPA engaged in propaganda when it used Thunderclap—a software program—that sent information about the water rule to both Facebook and Twitter.
GAO determined “…that EPA’s use of Thunderclap constitutes covert propaganda, in violation of the publicity or propaganda prohibition,” because recipients had no idea the EPA was sending the messages.
In addition, the GAO concluded the EPA broke laws that were written to prevent federal bureaucracies from lobbying Congress. It noted an EPA employee’s blog post included links to radical environmental activist websites that allowed visitors to urge Congress to support the water rule.
The Oversight Committee report also described other regulatory process abuses in pushing the new water rule, including publishing the proposed rule before input from the agency’s Scientific Advisory Board, not adequately considering public comments, and not consulting with state governments and tribes.
As WikiLeaks, Project Veritas and the EPA rulemaking show, Democrats and their bureaucratic allies will do anything to advance their political and regulatory agenda.