EPA Encourages the Public to Specifically Submit Positive Comments
The New York Times has an article worth reading discussing EPA’s efforts to influence comments submitted to them by the public regarding the agency’s and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to redefine “Waters of the United States (WOTUS).”
Notably, Gina McCarthy, administrator of EPA, went before a Senate committee earlier this year touting the fact that almost 90 percent of all comments submitted expressed support for the rule as proposed. It turns out that many of these comments were submitted as a result of an unprecedented outreach initiative, which is being led by a former Obama campaign staffer.
Thunderclap (a “crowdspeaking” platform) messages were apparently sent by EPA to over 1.8 million people. EPA also made extensive use of other more traditional forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
While most experts seem to agree that EPA did not cross a legal line and violate the federal Anti-Lobbying, many critics are questioning if EPA is truly interested in objectively gauging the sentiment of the public before implementing new regulations that could have profound effects, in this case, on the nation’s water resources.
Despite the public engagement efforts, ALEC submitted comments to EPA expressing concern with the proposed redefinition and asked EPA and the Corps to propose a new definition that would more narrowly define the agencies’ jurisdiction in a way that is consistent with recent Supreme Court precedent.