Senators want transparency with ‘sue-and-settle’ agreements from EPA

Feb. 5, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OKla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, joined Sen. Chuck Grassley in introducing the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act (S.378), legislation that would bring common sense reforms to federal agency abuse of “sue-and-settle” tactics.

Sue-and-settle provides a scheme for environmental activists to advance their radical agenda by suing a federal agency under an obscure legal provision and reaching an agreement for regulatory action without any meaningful input from interested parties.

“For too long, federal agencies and environmentalists have been shaping costly and burdensome regulations behind closed doors, shutting out elected officials, states and localities, and private citizens through a process called sue-and-settle,” Inhofe said. “The most egregious offender in the Obama Administration is the EPA who, through sue-and-settle tactics, has abandoned its previous, long-standing policy of working closely with states to regulate and enforce rules. Sen. Grassley’s common sense legislation brings much needed transparency and public participation to regulatory practices of federal agencies.”

As it relates to the Committee on Environment and Public Works, sue-and-settle tactics run rampant at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). While more than 100 rules issued during the first term of the Obama Administration are attributed to sue-and-settle, some of the most egregious examples from the EPA and FWS include:

  • An agreement between FWS and Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians in 2011 to list more than 250 species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recent analysis reveals settlements with these groups have included a combined 1,008 species.
  • An EPA agreement in 2013 to tighten EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone prompted by a Sierra Club petition.
  • An EPA agreement in 2012 to issue additional methane-specific new source performance standards for the oil and natural gas sector prompted by a Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club petition.
  • An EPA agreement in 2010 to issue new source performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants prompted by a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Environmental Defense Fund.
  • An EPA agreement in 2010 to issue federal implementation plans under the regional haze program, which was prompted by a petition from environmental groups including Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians.