“Sue and Settle “ practices, sometimes referred to as “friendly lawsuits”, are cozy deals through which far-left radical environmental groups file lawsuits against federal agencies wherein court-ordered “consent decrees” are issued based upon a prearranged settlement agreement they collaboratively craft together in advance behind closed doors. Then, rather than allowing the entire process to play out, the agency being sued settles the lawsuit by agreeing to move forward with the requested action they and the litigants both want.
In other words, the agency throws the case, somewhat like Bre’r Rabbit agreeing to be thrown into a favorite brier-patch. A big difference however, is that in this case, Farmer McGregor andMr. Rabbit were partners in the scam from the beginning. It’s the unwary American public that actually does get caught in the thorns.
While the environmental group is given a seat at the table, outsiders who are most impacted are excluded, with no opportunity to object to the settlements. Accordingly, both the litigants and the defendant agency, operating in coffee bars and friendly courtroom shadows, avoid the harsh outside glare of oversight. No public notice about the settlement is released until the agreement is filed in court…after the damage has been done.
On top of all that, we taxpayers, including those impacted regulatory victims, are put on the hook for legal fees of both colluding parties. According to a 2011 GAO report, this amounted to millions of dollars awarded to environmental organizations for EPA litigations between 1995 and 2010. Three “Big Green” groups received 41% of this payback: Earthjustice, $4,655,425 (30%); the Sierra Club, $966,687; and the Natural Resources Defense Council, $252,004. Most of this was paid to environmental attorneys in connection to lawsuits filed under the Clean Air Act, followed next by the Clean Water Act.
In addition, the Department of Justice forked over at least $43 million of our money defending EPA in court between 1998 and 2010. This didn’t include money spent by EPA for their legal costs in connection with those rip-offs, since EPA doesn’t keep track of their attorney’s time on a case-by-case basis.
Read more at Forbes.com. By Larry Bell.