CLAIM: EPA used propaganda in promoting WOTUS rule

From the 26-page GAO report, the GAO says: “We conclude that EPA violated the described provisions through its use of social media in association with its rulemaking efforts to define “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA) during FYs 2014 and 2015.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently under investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for what it calls “covert propaganda” and “grassroots lobbying” for inappropriate use of social media to promote the “Waters of the United States Rule” (WOTUS).

On Dec. 14, the GAO ruled the EPA broke federal law through an online campaign using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Thunderclap to flood the public comment period in support of the WOTUS rule. During this period, the EPA’s Twitter account (@EPAwater) tweeted a link to the agencies’ Thunderclap campaign, urging supporters to get behind the cause and tell their family and friends about it. Clicking the link later resulted in involuntary posting on supporters’ social media pages with messages about the campaign. One such message read: “Clean water is important to me. I support EPA’s efforts to protect it for my health, my family and my community.” The EPA's use of these social media platforms, according to GAO, effectively resulted in innapropriate use of the social media platforms.

From the 26-page GAO report, the GAO says: “We conclude that EPA violated the described provisions through its use of social media in association with its rulemaking efforts to define “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA) during FYs 2014 and 2015.”

Read the full GAO complaint here.

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