The rule in question would have radically expanded the definition of "navigable waters" in the Clean Water Act to include things like "ephemeral tributaries" or other areas where there's no "navigable" water in sight. The American Farm Bureau Federation said that the rule would give the EPA an "almost unlimited reach."
The rule's goal isn't so much to ensure clean water — the nation's water has been getting steadily cleaner for decades — but to bring still more of the economy under EPA control, since activity that involves water covered by the CWA can require time-consuming and costly permits.
The rule is also fresh evidence of how the EPA will blatantly disregard the law to get its way.
This September, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., produced detailed evidence that EPA administrator Regina McCarthy "committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings" regarding the rule and how it was drafted.
In October, a federal appeals court blocked the EPA from enforcing the rule because those suing to overturn it have "a substantial possibility of success" in winning their case.
Now the Government Accountability Office finds that in trying to get public approval for this massive new rule, the EPA illegally engaged in "covert propaganda" and lobbying efforts for the rule and broke the Antideficiency Act by spending money without authorization.
Normally, such a pattern of abuses would create something of a stir. But no one at the EPA is likely to pay a price for their misdeeds. They never do. As a result, the EPA has become far and away the most lawless and corrupt agency in the federal government.
Let's look at just a few things it's been engaged in over the past seven years:
Continued overreach: The appeals court ruling is hardly the first time that the EPA has run afoul of the law in its rush to regulate. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA had ignored the costs of its regulation of mercury emissions, which cost $9 billion to implement for $9 million in benefits.
Secret emails: Former administrator Lisa Jackson and other top EPA officials were caught using secret email accounts — Jackson's was under the name "Richard Windsor" — to hide key communications from the public.
Collusion: In August, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a 72-page report charging that the EPA had used hidden emails and secret meetings with environmental groups to collude on Obama's massively expensive "Clean Power Plan."
Politicizing FOIA requests:A Competitive Enterprise Institute review found that the EPA routinely granted waivers from FOIA fees to environmental groups but routinely denied them for conservative groups.
And last spring, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth blasted the EPA for mishandling FOIA requests from a conservative legal foundation, saying, "Despite admonitions from this court and others ... EPA continues to demonstrate a lack of respect for the FOIA process."
And this is to say nothing of the fact that the EPA has been caught retaliating against whistleblowers and permitting egregious misbehavior by employees.
In June, the EPA's inspector general released a report saying that the "culture of complacency" there had allowed myriad abuses, including filing fake travel vouchers, conducting private business on the job and spending six hours a day watching porn.
Just this week, the IG released another report showing that the EPA couldn't explain why it handed out $545,000 in bonuses to contractors.
The EPA is a completely out-of-control agency wrecking the U.S. economy. It's long past time for lawmakers to bring it to heel.