The EPA Must Answer for its Back-door “Sue and Settle” Deals

Posted by ACCCE at 1:58 pm, May 28, 2013

An article from the Washington Examiner has decried the EPA’s continued use of “sue and settle” tactics which allow for closed-door deals to be made and ratified without any sense of transparency to the public.

The “sue and settle” process occurs when a private environmental group sues the EPA in federal court seeking to force the EPA to issue new regulations by a certain date. Then, the agency and group officials meet behind closed doors to hammer out a deal; typically, in the deal, the government agrees to do whatever the activists want. Most importantly, the last step occurs when the federal judge issues a consent decree, thus making that deal the law of the land.

Since 2009, the EPA has reached such closed-door deals with the Sierra Club 34 times and have worked under a “settle and sue” process with another environmental activist group, the WildEarth Guardians, 20 times. The article poses the question as to why the agency isn’t seeing the public rebuke that this type of shady interaction warrants, citing that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce noted in a comprehensive new report that “several environmental advocacy groups have made the “sue and settle” process a significant part of their legal strategy,” with the article adding that this process is also “a significant funding tool,” for the agency, as in most cases, the suing group’s legal fees are paid for by taxpayers.

All of this occurs outside of the public eye, without congressional hearings or the opportunity for anyone outside of a privileged few to know how new governmental regulator policy is being shaped until it’s already ratified and too late to for any changes to be made. This process is intrinsically anti-democratic and scoffs in the face of any sense of transparency or accountability in the government. It is essential that we repeal “sue and settle” and bring transparency back to all government happenings.

Head over to Twitter and tell @EPAgov to repeal “sue and settle.”


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