Inhofe, Roberts, ask EPA IG to probe ‘anti-farmer’ campaign | TSLN.com

Inhofe, Roberts, ask EPA IG to probe ‘anti-farmer’ campaign

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., last week asked the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general to audit and investigate an EPA grant to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission that the senators say was "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, the senators said.

"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," Inhofe and Roberts said in a letter to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins.

"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.

“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.” Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., And Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

"Further, the billboards and placards do not cite EPA as a funding source of the campaign.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 wrote.

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"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 added.

In a statement, an EPA spokeswoman said, "The tone and content of this outside campaign does not represent the views of EPA."

"EPA spends an enormous amount of time and resources on efforts to work with farmers, tribes and other stakeholders on collaborative efforts to improve water quality," she said.

"The grant being used to fund the billboard was awarded to a consortium to be directed at endangered salmon recovery efforts. The grant also authorized a public education element. The consortium made a sub-award for a campaign which should not be using EPA funds. We are in the process of correcting that."

–The Hagstrom Report

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