The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did nothing wrong when the agency spent millions of dollars during the Obama administration lobbying for stronger restrictions against farmers, according to a report published by a government watchdog group.
Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Pat Roberts of Kansas asked the inspector general to investigate the agency’s decision last year to forge the “What’s Upstream?” advocacy campaign. They believe the EPA’s campaign was part of former President Barack Obama’s alleged war on farmers.
The probe found the agency’s $15 million campaign was legal and on the level.
“The EPA properly funded the ‘What’s Upstream?’ advocacy campaign and did not violate lobbying-related prohibitions,” the inspector general’s report summary said.
Inhofe and Roberts’s complaints stem from a little-known EPA program granting money to various environmental groups for campaigns against farmer and ranchers.
A coalition of environmental groups and an American Indian tribe used EPA funds to put up two billboards as part of a campaign to link water pollution to agricultural activities.
Agricultural reports found in 2016 that the billboards likely violated the terms of the grant. EPA’s funding of environmentalists’ anti-farming campaign could also amount to lobbying, the reports added.
The tribes used the money to encourage local Washingtonians to badger legislators to pass legislation requiring farms to be at least 100 feet from all rivers.
The EPA initially denied the funds violated federal rules against using taxpayer dollars to lobby, according to the report, released Tuesday. It eventually wilted after congressional oversight applied pressure, admitting that the federal funds were used for a “campaign which should not be using federal funds.”