Government buys billboards urging more power for government

Billboards in Washington state urging tougher environmental regulations on farmers were funded by (if this still comes as any shock) the federal taxpayers, through a grant program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And that wasn’t disclosed, although by agency rule it was supposed to be. [Don Jenkins, Capital Press] A few months ago EPA got caught illegally expending tax money to stir up pressure on Congress to support a wider interpretation of its own powers on the “Waters of the United States” rule. More on advocacy funding here.

Related, from way back in 1999, “Smart Growth at the Federal Trough: EPA’s Financing of the Anti-Sprawl Movement” by Peter Samuel and Randal O’Toole, Cato Policy Analysis #361:

The federal government should not subsidize one side of a public policy debate; doing so undermines the very essence of democracy. Nor should government agencies fund nonprofit organizations that exist primarily to lobby other government agencies. Congress should shut down the federal government’s anti-sprawl lobbying activities and resist the temptation to engage in centralized social engineering.

One Comment

  • “The EPA says it concluded What’s Upstream has not broken prohibitions on lobbying with federal funds because it has not advocated for or against specific legislation. ”

    That’s laughable. It would be one thing if they were encouraging farmers to obey the law. But they complain about UNregulated agriculture. That’s clearly taking a position in favor of more regulations.

    And it’s one thing for the EPA or an affiliated group to tell Congress that they recommend certain regulations. It’s quite another thing to spend taxpayer money to put up billboards to convince the public.