February 1, 2017 EPA FOIA Release
The February 1, 2107 release of EPA internal documents relating to What’s Upstream make clear that the EPA was never concerned about doing the right thing. They were concerned, however, with the public outcry. These documents show that strongly worded letters from a major Idaho farm organization, concern expressed by the Skagit County Director Public Works, articles published in Capital Press and the efforts of Save Family Farming to bring this scandal to light were of significant concern.
It is so distressing that the response was to prepare “talking points” and to reach out to a few people ruffled by this to repair relationships. Wouldn’t you expect that as their decisions to support the illegal and dishonest attack on farmers came to light, they would say “Oops, we messed up. We need to address this wrong.” Instead, the response was pure PR in the most negative way.
Farmers are reluctant to go public with their concerns. They want to keep their heads down and just farm. They are particularly reluctant to complain about treatment from a regulatory agency because they know that that agency can target them and make their life miserable. But this silence contributes to government turned against its citizens. And that is what we have here. This is not government of the people, for the people, by the people. This government turning against its own citizens, using citizen’s money to publish lies and pass legislation or regulations with the intent to harm farmers.
December 21, 2016 EPA FOIA Release
Here is the 129 page EPA FOIA release. Note that on December 15, the date EPA had set for complete release, we received a letter stating the deadline for release of all documents was now June 2017.
December 2: EPA’s McLerran’s Defense PDC
This is the letter the EPA Region 10 sent to the PDC defending Administrator McLerran, following our letter in response to his initial defense.
In addition to the letter from the EPA, McLerran submitted a declaration stating his role. We note several factual issues with this declaration.
December 1 & 19, 2016 Wasserman’s PDC Defense
In this response submitted by his attorney, Larry Wasserman defense against our complaint of state campaign law violations is stunning. First he claims he was not engaged in lobbying activity, second, that if he was it wouldn’t matter because as a tribal employee (not tribal member) he is immune from state campaign laws.
November FOIA Document Release
Documents related to What’s Upstream requested by Save Family Farming through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) continue to reveal the behind the scenes activity of EPA. In this case, after Congressional leaders complained vigorously about the campaign to EPA Director McCarthy, the public relations staff prepared “Talking Points” so that Director McCarthy and others responding to political or media questions about this would know what to say.
These “Talking Points” are revealing in both what they say and don’t say. They make it clear that EPA headquarters believed that EPA Region 10 Administrator made a very serious mistake in approving the funding and continuation of the campaign. They suggest it is because the campaign does not represent the views of the EPA. Why don’t they come out and say because using public funds to conduct a political campaign – with lies or no lies – is illegal? That would be an overt admission of guilt that their lawyers likely would not allow. Instead, at the end they restate an earlier position that because the “site” does not advocate for or against specific legislation the EPA determined it did not violate federal rules.
This ignores the fact that the previously released documents show that EPA staff did indeed find that it violated federal laws, not one, but several. Specifically, it violated the letter and spirit of laws related to political activity. EPA staff indeed halted the campaign because of deepening concern about the distortions and incorrect accusations about farming and pollution as well as the overt political activity. But, as we now know, these objections were overruled by EPA Administrator McLerran after he was bullied by What’s Upstream campaign manager Larry Wasserman on July 16, 2015 in telephone conference call.
Complete November 2016 FOIA Release
Mostly internal EPA HQ communication with growing realization of the “public brouhaha” coming over What’s Upstream, including the discovery of the Save Family Farming effort to bring this to public light.
Documents Relating to EPA Funding of Political Attack on Farmers
Here is the language of the grant used to fund the Whatsupstream attack:
The NWIFC [Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission] will develop and carry out a program to subaward and manage funding; specifically for Tribal implementation projects to protect and restore Puget Sound, consistent with the Puget Sound Action Agenda. Implementation includes: receiving applications in response to the request for proposals, review of submitted projects to verify that they meet funding intent, and awarding financial audits, progress reporting and by conducting site visits.
The contact information on the grant:
6730 Martin Way East
Olympia, WA 98516-5540