WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today unveiled a report revealing how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is usurping state authority to manage their congressionally delegated regional haze programs. EPA’s takeover of these programs to manage visibility in national parks will cost states millions of dollars to implement with no discernable enhancement of visibility.
The Chamber commissioned this report, authored by William Yeatman, to illustrate how a regulatory tool known as “sue and settle rulemaking” is being employed by the EPA to force states to relinquish their authority and accept EPA’s plans that are much costlier to implement and increase utility costs for consumers. “Sue and settle rulemaking” is a regulatory tactic where an organization sues a federal agency in a distant court to initiate a rulemaking, only to have the agency settle behind closed doors. Since the lawsuit is only between the private organization and the federal agency, there is no notice given to the public about the settlement until the agreement is filed with the court.
“Sue and settle agreements allow EPA to convert a state Regional Haze program into a major new set of federal mandates, with no recourse for those affected until it’s too late,” said Bill Kovacs, the Chamber’s senior vice president for Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs. “The report outlines the potentially disastrous effects of this regulatory tool being used by the EPA to disregard states sovereignty and take over what Congress clearly determined to be a state environmental responsibility. These federal haze requirements offer only high costs for states, utilities and consumers, with no benefit.”