Daily Sun News Editorial

Audit not enough to restore faith in EPA

DAILY SUN NEWS EDITORIAL

It’s good to see at least one federal agency reviewing its own inappropriate actions.

But will the Office of the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation into agency grant funding of What’s Upstream be enough to halt the bureaucratic attacks on farmers and ranchers?

Last week, the EPA’s investigative arm announced it would begin a preliminary audit of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission’s use of grant money to target farming and ranching here in Eastern Washington.

The What’s Upstream marketing campaign features a website that opens with a video of a farmer — not from Eastern Washington — plowing his field. The video then moves quickly into a clip of a polluted waterway and dead fish. Simultaneously, the website displays, “Polluters of our waterways should be held accountable for their impacts on our water, our health and our fish.”

The EPA has rightly come under fire for funding the extremists’ propoganda implying our farmers and ranchers are the cause of pollution in the state. The agency is also under fire for using the program to try to influence our state’s lawmakers, and force them to increase rural land-use regulations, thereby giving EPA more authority.

The investigation will focus on several questions: Did the EPA break the law in funding the marketing campaign? Did the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission break the law pertaining to use of the grant dollars? What should not have been paid for by the funds? And did the EPA discuss the attack on farmers and ranchers before and after it allocated the funds?

But is an audit enough?

We don’t think so. EPA and National Indian Fisheries Commission employees should be disciplined for their political attack ads on the backbone of rural Eastern Washington’s economy.

And rather than giving the EPA so much money it has to give away grants, the agency’s budget should be slashed, putting the funds back in the pockets of taxpaying residents and businesses.

Eliminating activist employees and slashing the EPA budget are only the first steps needed to help get the agency back on an appropriate track.



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