On Monday, Scott Pruitt, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, announced a major change in the way the EPA will be doing business in the future. The agency will no longer pursue what has come to be known as “sue and settle,” whereby environmental groups sue the agency to take a desired action and the agency responds by settling the suit under terms favorable to the group. This change will restore agency rulemaking to its proper function, and deny the Left a major weapon in emplacing extreme, damaging regulations in federal agencies with no input or oversight from affected parties.
The days of regulation through litigation are over. We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress.
Normally, federal regulations are issued only following a period of public scrutiny, wherein all affected parties may participate in development of the regulation. But using “sue and settle,” leftwing activists circumvent this process. They sue the requisite federal agency claiming the agency is not adequately performing its job in some key area. They are aided and abetted in this process with a wink and nod from the target agency, which, instead of fighting the lawsuit, works behind closed doors with the activists to develop desired regulations and then “settle” the lawsuit by entering under a court-approved consent decree. A Chamber of Commerce report, Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors, found that:
Under this sue and settle process, EPA chose at some point not to defend itself in lawsuits brought by special interest advocacy groups at least 60 times between 2009 and 2012. In each case, it agreed to settlements on terms favorable to those groups. These settlements directly resulted in EPA agreeing to publish more than 100 new regulations, many of which impose compliance costs in the tens of millions and even billions of dollars.
Sue and settle cases under the Obama administration doubled from prior years. Summarized from Sue and Settle, the following are three of the most costly: more here