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Topic: Sue-and-Settle Agreements, Backdoor Legislation< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 14 2013, 2:16 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just when I thought our government couldn't get any more corrupt:

In the early months of 2010, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund waged an all-out campaign urging the Senate to pass a sweeping climate-change bill backed by President Obama and leaders in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The measure crashed and burned that summer.

But the green groups—and Obama’s top environmental officials—knew they could resort to a different tactic: lawsuits to compel executive action. Toward the end of George W. Bush’s administration, the three big environmental organizations and 11 states sued to force the Environmental Protection Agency to issue new regulations reining in carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants and oil refineries. The Bush EPA fought the suit, but the Obama EPA, full of top officials who had worked in these very nonprofits, took a different tack. By December 2010, after the failure of the climate-change legislation, Obama’s first-term EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, settled the lawsuit—on the advocates’ terms. The settlement obliged the agency to begin regulating carbon pollution from coal plants and oil refineries, an outcome with profound environmental and economic implications. And in April 2012, EPA proposed a historic new rule to regulate global-warming pollution from coal plants. As Obama’s second term unfolds, the agency is expected to finalize more rules that, thanks to lawsuits, will give the green groups what they want.

The climate-change settlement is just one in a series of recent so-called sue-and-settle agreements since Obama took office. Between 2009 and 2012, EPA has settled at least 60 lawsuits from outside groups, leading to dozens of new environmental regulations. A 2010 deal in another Sierra Club lawsuit led to a 2012 regulation on mercury emissions from coal plants. A 2009 settlement with environmentalists led to a 2012 regulation governing pollution from cement manufacturers. While EPA could fight the suits, they often line up with the administration’s agenda—to fight climate change and promote clean-air laws—so why bother? In many cases, the federal government, as the loser in the legal settlements, has then paid the green groups’ legal fees.

Last week, the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee held an investigative hearing, calling the report’s author, William Kovacs, the U.S. chamber’s senior vice president of environmental regulation, as a star witness. Kovacs told Congress the sue-and-settle process gives outside groups an outsized, backdoor role in driving the government regulatory agenda. They turn an independent agency into “an actor subservient to the binding terms of settlement agreements,” Kovacs said.

Sue-and-settle lawsuits with like-minded groups as a way to advance common goals aren’t new. The practice dates back to the Carter administration.

“There were just as many sue-and-settlements in other administrations. What has increased is the significance,” says Roger Martella, EPA’s general counsel during the George W. Bush administration. “These are economywide mega-rule-makings ... as opposed to small settlements impacting only a limited issue.”


http://news.yahoo.com/epa-fig....89.html


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 14 2013, 2:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"Corrupt"? Huh.

Because I'd have applied that word to a regulatory agency expressly doing the bidding of the interests it was supposed to regulate. Turning that around I would consider the opposite of "corruption".


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 14 2013, 3:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

So you support lobbying groups being able to drive regulatory agenda, as long as they're in collusion with the administration de jour?

Looking into the future, you'd be fine with the NRA or Koch brothers serving a similar role under the next GOP administration?


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 14 2013, 7:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm having a very hard time figuring out what it is you find objectionable here. Do you think these policies are substantively wrong? Do you think the lawsuits had no merit to begin with? Or do you object to the agencies settling them?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 16 2013, 4:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm opening a beer a toasting a rare victory against the fossil fuel coalition. The NRA. the Koch brothers, military contractors, and any of a number of well funded selfish interests have held Americans by the short and curly hair for a long time. It is good to see something that is good for people and the planet succeed.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 17 2013, 10:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TehipiteTom @ Jun. 14 2013, 7:00 pm)
QUOTE
I'm having a very hard time figuring out what it is you find objectionable here.

Really? If so, I guess I'm just wasting my breath. But I'll try once again.

The problem is the backdoor legislation that is occurring. The Administration is purposely settling the lawsuits because they forward policy that Congress objects. And it wouldn't surprise me if there is collusion as well.

Even if I agree with the policy doesn't make it right. The ends don't justify the means. When a republican is elected President, and some utility sues the EPA for undue hardship due to greenhouse gas restrictions, will you be OK with that Administration just settling the lawsuit, thereby rescinding Obama's greenhouse policies, and paying restitution to said utility?


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 17 2013, 12:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Corrupt seems a bit overstated.  I think a court decided that CO^2 is air pollution etc.  So if these were not settled they would probably be won in court.

Still it seems that if Environmentalist are bring a suit that the EPA favors with no one on industries side of the suit, that perhaps it is a bit of a run around.  Still I would think the coal industry with its deep pockets could file its own suits or join the suit etc., but I am not a lawyer.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 17 2013, 4:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(WalksWithBlackflies @ Jun. 17 2013, 7:54 am)
QUOTE

(TehipiteTom @ Jun. 14 2013, 7:00 pm)
QUOTE
I'm having a very hard time figuring out what it is you find objectionable here.

Really? If so, I guess I'm just wasting my breath. But I'll try once again.

The problem is the backdoor legislation that is occurring. The Administration is purposely settling the lawsuits because they forward policy that Congress objects. And it wouldn't surprise me if there is collusion as well.

Even if I agree with the policy doesn't make it right. The ends don't justify the means. When a republican is elected President, and some utility sues the EPA for undue hardship due to greenhouse gas restrictions, will you be OK with that Administration just settling the lawsuit, thereby rescinding Obama's greenhouse policies, and paying restitution to said utility?

There are several huge problems with this, the first of which is that your whole conclusion is based on the assumption that the lawsuits are without merit.

Because if they do have merit, there's absolutely nothing wrong (much less "corrupt") with the EPA acknowledging as much and settling on terms favorable to the plaintiffs.

Now, on the question of merit, note that, as the article you linked to says (in a bit you left out), "most of the sue-and-settle cases compel the agency to issue regulations for which it has already missed a statutory deadline". So on the face of it, in those cases the EPA really was in violation of the law, and the lawsuits were a legitimate means of correcting that.

On the carbon regulation lawsuit, keep in mind that the suit was filed after the Supreme Court had issued a ruling requiring the EPA to regulate carbon emissions. So, again, litigating for the purpose of forcing the EPA to do what it was already required to do.  (Also, too: it wasn't just "lobbying groups"; ten states were plaintiffs in that suit, along with the Sierra Club.)

Another big problem with your position is that it completely ignores the context in which this is happening. There's a reason why (as the article notes) most of these lawsuits were filed when Bush was President: because the EPA at the time, captive to industry interests, was not doing the job it was required to do. That included a lot of footdragging on regulations, which had the practical effect of nullifying the statutes that required them.

And by the way, one of the groups lobbying hardest for agency nullification of those statutory requirements was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If the name "U.S. Chamber of Commerce" seems oddly familiar to you, it's because they cooked up the "report" on which the Republicans' faux outrage is based (as noted in the article, in yet another section you elided).

So, to recap: industry groups successfully lobby Bush's EPA to nullify regulatory requirements; ten states sue to force the EPA to uphold the law; under President Obama, the agency settles the lawsuit and agrees to issue regulations it's required to issue; and the industry groups, not liking this a bit, try to gin up a fake scandal in response. And sadly (but not surprisingly) they got a dutiful stenographer at the National Journal to take them just seriously enough to make it look semi-legitimate.

And you got snookered.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 19 2013, 9:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Excellent post TT, and a great example of how agenda-driven media representing special interests takes factoids and spins them into falsehood to influence public opinion.

Some real digging is necessary to get the real picture -- which is something media journalism should be doing, but too often they merely give air time to both sides (or only one side) of the political spin. Controversy attracts more viewers and sells more advertising.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 19 2013, 10:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would rather have regulators who used to be associated with Environmental groups, than ones who used to work for the industries they are supposed to be regulating.  Haliburton, B & R, oil industry, coal industry, you name it and the previous holder of office chose his regulatory leaders from industry hacks.  At least with environmental hacks we get people who are for clean air, clean water, etc...

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 19 2013, 11:30 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Drift Woody @ Jun. 19 2013, 6:51 am)
QUOTE
Excellent post TT, and a great example of how agenda-driven media representing special interests takes factoids and spins them into falsehood to influence public opinion.

Some real digging is necessary to get the real picture -- which is something media journalism should be doing, but too often they merely give air time to both sides (or only one side) of the political spin. Controversy attracts more viewers and sells more advertising.

Thanks. Yeah, you're right...and that's what the Republicans are counting on with all their fake scandals like Benghazi or the IRS thing.

I would be interested to get WWBF's thoughts on the fuller picture, if he feels like responding.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 3:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I haven't had time to review anything in detail, but after reading TT's post it appears the agreements aren't as outrageous as I first thought.

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