Wednesday, April 06, 2016

EPA: Anti-farmer billboards violate agency rules

Two billboards in Washington that accuse farmers of polluting water violated a federal rule by failing to note that the Environmental Protection Agency funds the group that put up the signs, an EPA official said Thursday. A coalition of environmental groups and the Swinomish Indian tribe put up the billboards in Olympia and Bellingham to promote What’s Upstream, a media campaign crafted by a public relations firm to link agriculture with water pollution. The groups used an EPA grant to fund the billboards, but didn’t credit the agency’s financial support, a standard requirement for recipients of EPA funds. EPA regional policy adviser Bill Dunbar said Thursday the agency checked the billboards after an inquiry from the Capital Press. “It looks like a violation,” he said. The EPA notified the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission that the billboards are out of compliance, Dunbar said. The commission, an intermediary between EPA and the tribe, was expected to contact the Swinomish, Dunbar said. The tribe has teamed with Puget Soundkeeper, the Western Environmental Law Center, and the Center for Environmental Law and Policy for the What’s Upstream project, which includes social media, and online and radio advertising, and a letter-writing campaign to state legislators. The tribe has received EPA grants totaling nearly $570,000, primarily for the services of Seattle PR firm Strategies 360. Farm groups protest that the campaign smears farmers, ignores current regulations and misuses public funds...more

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