Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt ended the agency’s “sue and settle” policy Monday, criticizing “regulation through litigation” as wrong and “abusive.”
“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” said Administrator Pruitt. “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. Additionally, gone are the days of routinely paying tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to these groups with which we swiftly settle.”
Under previous administrations, particularly the Obama administration, special interest environmental groups such as the Sierra Club used lawsuits to force the EPA and other federal agencies to issue regulations that advance their climate change agenda. Those groups would sue the EPA and ask the court to compel the agency to enact new environmental regulations.
Critics say the “sue and settle” policy amounts to regulation through litigation, which allowed former EPA administrations to skirt around the agency’s limited rulemaking authority.
The EPA claims that such cases often establish agency obligations without participation from the states or the affected industry, which forces the EPA to reach certain regulatory outcomes without the agency’s intent and cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars.
The Obama administration used the “sue and settle” practice far more than previous presidential administrations to enact new regulations. Obama had 137 “sued and settle” lawsuits during his time in office, compared to George W. Bush’s 66 EPA cases. Bill Clinton only had 27 EPA “sue and settle” cases in his second term.
Administrator Pruitt declared, “Regulation through litigation is wrong.”
Pruitt added, “If you look historically, I think it’s more the states that have been impacted in this process because there are obligations that states have under various statutes.”
One of the more famous “sue and settle” regulations was the Utility MACT rule, which established maximum achievable control technology (MACT) requirements for pollutants released from coal- and oil-fired electric utility power plants. The EPA estimated that the Utility MACT rules would cost the power plant industry $9.6 billion per year.
“That’s just abusive,” Pruitt added.
Administrator Pruitt recently proposed to eliminate the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a hallmark regulation of Obama’s climate change agenda. The decision would serve as part of President Trump’s agenda to unravel Obama’s environmental legacy and pursue an America First policy of “energy dominance.”
Breitbart News asked Administrator Pruitt how rescinding the “sue and settle” policy aligns with the agency’s recent actions to eliminate the Clean Power Plan. Pruitt responded:
Well, obviously these steps will provide regulatory reform and which has been abused by the past administration and exceeds statutory authority. This is a bit more of the procedural part of the abuses that have been taking place. Both are important, you need to provide clarity on the regulations to how we provide regulations procedurally. I think both are very important.
Breitbart News asked Pruitt if he foresees the EPA taking future action in a similar vein to ending “sue and settle” policies and ending the Clean Power Plan.
“We’re looking at a few, one of which you will see next week or so and which I think your readers will like,” Pruitt responded.