EPA Uses “Sue and Settle” to Impose Regulations on Unsuspecting Industries

EPA-LogoIn recent years, EPA and other federal agencies have sought ways to circumvent the strictures of notice-and-comment rulemaking. One popular method became known as “sue and settle.”

Here’s how it works: An advocacy group files suit demanding that a federal agency impose new or stricter regulatory standards on a business or even an entire industry. Instead of defending, the agency accedes to the activist group’s demands, negotiates a private agreement, and then seeks court approval through the consent-decree process. Some consent decrees have arisen from lawsuits that demand an agency perform a nondiscretionary statutory mandate that it has failed to implement, while others call for entirely new uses of regulators’ discretionary authority. Sue-and-settle agreements frequently shorten the amount of time for public comment on the agency action arising from the settlement or curtail the time an agency has to review public comments before finalizing a rule. Continue reading “EPA Uses “Sue and Settle” to Impose Regulations on Unsuspecting Industries”