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Watchdog: EPA spending on water pollution campaign was legal

Watchdog: EPA spending on water pollution campaign was legal
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The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) inspector general says the agency didn’t violate the law when it gave an outside group money for a campaign to fight water pollution from farming.

The campaign, by Washington state’s Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, got $15.7 million from the EPA under former President Obama as part of a cooperative agreement.

It was dubbed “What’s Upstream?” and urged people — through billboards, a website and other media — to push for new restrictions on pollution from farmers.

Congressional Republicans, led by Sens. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeInhofe tells EPA nominee he'll talk to her 'daddy' if she does not 'behave' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation | Senate confirms EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' | Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' MORE (Okla.) and Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (Kansas), sought an inspector general investigation last year, saying the campaign unfairly demonized farmers and ranchers and violated prohibitions placed on the EPA against lobbying.

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But the inspector general said in a Monday report that neither the EPA nor the local group did anything illegal.

“Our reviews of the cooperative agreement and associated project files concluded that EPA Region 10 complied with all applicable laws, regulations and policies when executing the award and carrying out its oversight responsibilities,” the report said, referring to the EPA’s regional office in Washington.

The Fisheries Commission similarly “complied with all applicable laws, regulations and policies, as well as all terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement,” the report found.

The findings come months after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the EPA broke the law in its promotion of its Clean Water Rule.

The GAO accused the EPA of “covert propaganda” for not properly disclosing who was behind some promotions and for violating the ban on lobbying, accusations the agency disagreed with.