(National Sentinel) Environmental Abuse: The Environmental Protection Agency under former President Obama used a social media platform to covertly promote agency policies in violation of a federal law prohibiting such behavior, according to a conservative watchdog organization.
Using Thunderclap, a platform that shares messages across Facebook and Twitter, EPA officials recruited outside groups to generate support for a variety of Obama-era environmental policies, The Daily Caller reported.
Under federal law, Executive Branch agencies are prohibited from engaging in propaganda. Also, they cannot use federal resources and taxpayer dollars to engage in grassroots campaigns that attempt to sway Americans into pressuring their lawmakers to act on pending legislation.
“I don’t want it to look like EPA used our own social media accounts to reach our support goal,” former EPA Director of Web Communications Jessica Orquina wrote in an email in 2014 to Karen Wirth, an EPA team leader in the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.
Judicial Watch obtained the documents via a lawsuit after the agency failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request in May.
“EPA is planning to use a new social media application called Thunderclap to provide a way for people to show their support for clean water and the agency’s proposal to protect it,” Loop wrote at the time before explaining how the ploy works.
“If 500 or more people sign up to participate, the message will be posted on everyone’s walls and feeds at the same time. But if fewer than 500 sign up, nothing happens. So, it is important to both sign up and encourage others to do so,” he added.
Earlier this year, current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced his agency would repeal the clean water rule.
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” Pruitt said in a statement at the time, acting on instructions from President Donald J. Trump, who campaigned on reducing onerous federal environmental regulations.
In a 2016 opinion, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that EPA has only been empowered by federal law to regulate large bodies of water, not small creeks and ponds.
“The Obama EPA knowingly did an end run around federal law to push another Obama environmental power grab,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a press statement Monday. “These documents show how these Obama-era bureaucrats seem to be more like social activists than public employees.”
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