Rep. Dan Newhouse, R.-Wash., and 144 mostly Republican members of the House have written the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging a publicly-funded campaign to advocate for clean water policy in Washington state.
Newhouse and House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway, R.-Texas, led the effort calling on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to explain the use of federal money to support whatsupstream.com, a website that encouraged Washington residents to advocate for clean water regulations. Federal law prohibits the use of public dollars for political advocacy work.
The active website includes stock images of cattle standing in water, implying that Washington farmers allow cattle to wade into waterways. Visitors are asked to report such incidents to the Puget Soundkeeper, one of the site’s sponsors.
In a conference call with reporters, Newhouse said What’s Upstream insults Washington farmers and ranchers working to improve conditions on their properties.
“The loss of trust in the agency is real. That’s the kind of damage that’s going to take a long time to come back from,” he said.
The loss of trust in the agency is real. That’s the kind of damage that’s going to take a long time to come back from.
Rep. Dan Newhouse
The letter was signed by Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dave Reichert. Three Democrats joined the effort: Rep. Brad Ashford of Nebraska, Rep. Jim Costa of California and Rep. Colin Peterson of Minnesota.
The What’s Upstream website is a project of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, the Spokane Riverkeeper, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Swinomish Tribal Indian Community and the Western Environmental Law Center to educate the public about the causes of water pollution and how it affects waterways, people and fish.
The site notes it is funded by the federal agency but includes a disclaimer that the contents do not reflect the views or policies of EPA.