Posted by Curt on 22 December, 2017 at 4:33 pm. 2 comments already!


Foreword by Paul Dreissen.

Author, advisor and former US Senate aide and Colorado Department of Natural Resources director Greg Walcher has written an important article on how sue-and-settle lawsuits ignored and abused our fundamental rights to legal due process from their very beginning – while enriching the environmentalist groups that brought the legal actions. He also explains why EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was absolutely right to terminate the practice.

Walcher’s analysis should be read by every legislator, regulator, judge … and actual or potential victim of this infamous practice.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently issued a directive to end a 20-year string of “sue and settle” cases that have funneled untold millions of tax dollars to environmental organizations. Predictably, those groups and their allies have been apoplectic about it.

Many of these groups have grown from grassroots citizen movements to gigantic cash-flush conglomerates, with much of the cash coming from the government they appear or pretend to be fighting. Many now have separate legal arms with hundreds of attorneys, whose primary job is to sue the government and keep the cash flowing. They are part of the $13-billion-per-year U.S. environmental industry and lobby.

These organizations vehemently object to the phrase “sue and settle,” claiming it oversimplifies a very complex legal procedure. But in fact, the strategy isn’t really very complicated at all.

Congress has created a mess, with all sorts of processes and procedures agencies must follow in making rules and decisions. Every step of the way, those decisions are subject to potential lawsuits. For entirely different reasons, Congress also authorized the government to pay the legal bills of people who are forced to sue to defend their interests against government overreach.

It didn’t take long for clever organizations, and their allies in government, to figure out how to turn that combination into a massive public policy ATM that gives them our money to finance their ideologies, disinformation campaigns, and more activism.

Government officials sometimes get frustrated by that pesky process required to make decisions that they think should be quick and easy. That’s where “sue and settle” comes in.

A “friendly” organization files a lawsuit demanding the very action the officials want to take anyway. So the government agency reaches an out-of-court settlement – often in a carefully selected friendly court – in which the agency agrees to the action demanded by the lawsuit, and agrees to pay the organization’s legal fees as part of its penance.

The court agrees to the settlement, part of which often seals the details (such as legal fees), making it difficult for anyone to track these deals. The parties who are most directly affected by the decisions are left out of the process; they never get to testify, never get their day in court, because the case was settled without going to court.

About 20 years ago, government agencies stopped collecting data on these settlements, so that they were no longer “able to” (or had to) report to Congress on the amount of money involved, or the groups to whom our tax money was being paid. Long-time observers know it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, and the recipients are mostly large environmental organizations.

Mr. Pruitt was right to direct an end to such abuses. Almost immediately, a group of 58 former EPA attorneys wrote a letter sharply criticizing his action, arguing that ending the practice will somehow harm the American people, as well as “fair and efficient operations” at EPA. Their letter is 13 pages long and has 23 footnotes, but you have to expect that from lawyers. For anyone who cares to wade through all the verbiage, their explanation is very telling.

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