Our editorial: EPA needs oversight

The Detroit News

Anyone who keeps up with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Twitter account won’t be surprised to know the agency has been accused of violating several laws by lobbying and organizing grassroots support for proposed environmental regulations.

It’s just the latest action by the agency — and directly, administrator Gina McCarthy — to defy federal law and violate the limited rights the agency is granted by Congress. A recent report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found the EPA broke the law multiple times through several social media campaigns that lobbied for and promoted its own actions — specifically the clean water rules.

According to federal law, federal agencies are allowed to promote their own policies, but can’t produce propaganda intended to influence the American public or to persuade Congress on certain actions. And they’re not allowed to use federal money, which is specifically allocated by Congress for other purposes, to essentially lobby Congress to expand their own power.

The laws exist for a reason.

That’s because government agencies don’t necessarily represent the interests of the American people, they will only advocate for their own. A government agency will never lobby to lower the amount of money or power it receives from Congress, or to shut down a program that might not work. It will, however, go to great lengths to defend and expand its existing power.

Administrator McCarthy argued her drummed up support — which was buffered by the help of a third party, also illegal — should justify passage of the overreaching clean water rules, designed to regulate every stream, puddle and surface water area in the country.

It’s corrupt, it’s sleazy, and it’s time someone stopped the EPA from living by its own code of conduct.

Yet despite the agency’s blatant disregard for the law, it seems nothing and no one is able to stop it.

Certainly President Barack Obama has no interest in prosecuting the agency carrying out what he hopes to be his legacy: tough environmental mandates.

McCarthy has ducked other legal standards as well.

She misrepresented the science used in her defense before Congress to justify the clean water rules. Now some members of Congress want her impeached.

She’s also lacked government transparency, keeping emails and texts from Congress, and has ignored repeated requests by organizations for public records requests.

All this while issuing new rules and regulations to thwart the country’s energy renaissance, which is providing much-needed energy security, affordable heating and gas, and jobs for millions of Americans.

In addition to explicitly breaking lobbying laws, the agency’s mandates are too broad and overreaching, which is prompting dozens of states — including Michigan — to push back on rulings for clean air standards, water, and this year’s Clean Power Plan.

The EPA claims moral high ground under its banner of protecting health and the environment, but violates the law when it pleases. Its actions deserve a close look by Congress.