APRIL 20, 2010
Months after the Obama Administration ordered citizens to report “fishy” speech opposing the president’s healthcare policies, it’s encouraging Americans to create video ads explaining the importance of federal regulations.
The scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of promoting the administration’s latest big government project with a contest that requires the public to submit a short video explaining why rules are important, why the average American should care about federal regulations and how everyone can participate in the rulemaking process. The winner gets $2,500.
Almost every aspect of our lives is touched by federal regulations even before we leave our house each morning, the EPA explains in its contest synopsis. For instance, government regulations help set the price of the electrical voltage in the alarm clocks that wake us up, the coffee we drink and the types of programming permitted in the morning.
Federal agencies develop and issue hundreds of rules and regulations annually yet many Americans don’t fully comprehend how they are made or how to get involved in the process. The video contest is a great opportunity to help the public understand the rulemaking process and to participate in an open government, the agency claims.
The winning video, which must include the slogan “Let your voice be heard,” will direct viewers to the government’s regulatory website and will be used by all federal agencies to promote the regulatory process. It should capture public imagination and use creativity, artistic expression and innovation to motivate others to participate in the rulemaking process while explaining the importance of regulations.
Ironically, the agency in charge of promoting rules and regulations doesn’t follow them. Earlier this year, the EPA reversed its stance on a dangerous household chemical (Bisphenol) after industry lobbyists swayed the agency to keep quite about its dangers. The EPA had previously determined that the chemical, deemed unsafe in hundreds of scientific studies, was dangerous and required tougher regulations.
The agency isn’t very “open” either. A few years ago, the EPA ordered the branch that enforces the nation’s environmental laws not to speak with congressional investigators, the media and even the agency’s own inspector general. The gag order was issued after several congressional committees asked the agency to disclose documents relating to its position on global warming.
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