U.S. EPA’s Directive to End ‘Sue and Settle’ Tactics Promises to Increase Integrity of Federal Rulemaking Process

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an agency-wide directive (and accompanying memo) on Oct. 16 that imposes steps to end the practice known as “sue and settle” – which is a quick resolution of citizen suits by environmental groups against the EPA, involving the agency’s failure to comply with statutory deadlines for issuance of regulations. Such agreements are oftentimes reached with little to no public input or transparency, EPA said, calling such a practice “regulation through litigation.”  AGC has long expressed concern that special interest groups are using these lawsuits to force the EPA to issue regulations that advance their interests and priorities.  The chief executive officer of AGC praised EPA for “putting an end to back room agreements ... [and] making sure that all affected parties have an opportunity to contribute to the discussion about measures needed to protect our environment.”
The Oct. 16 directive also sets a deadline of 15 days for EPA to publish public notice of legal complaints against EPA.  In addition, the directive calls for improved outreach to those affected by consent decrees or settlements and aims to block attorney fees and litigation costs from being included in any deals.
For more information, please contact AGC’s Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org or (703) 837-5332.


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