The EPA broke the law by using social media to drum up support for the Clean Water Rule, according to the US Government Accountability Office.
In its ruling, the GAO said the EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” and lobbying. Federal law prohibits agencies from doing both.
The EPA used Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Thunderclap to counter opposition to the water rule. “… EPA’s use of Thunderclap constituted covert propaganda…We also conclude the EPA hyperlinks to the NRDC and Surfrider Foundation webpages provided in the EPA blog post constitute grassroots lobbying,” the GAO wrote.
The Clean Water Rule, also knows as the Waters of the US Rule, expands the reach of the Clean Water Act to protect US streams and wetlands from pollution. It took effect in August; however, the day it was slated to become law across the US a federal judge in North Dakota blocked the water rule from taking effect in 13 states that had sued to stop the regulations.
In October a federal court ruled the guidelines were likely illegal and put the Clean Water Rule on hold nationwide.