Published on April 4, 2014
Sue and Settle: The Truth About Regulating Behind Closed Doors
When a federal agency agrees with a special interest group to a legally- binding settlement that creates rules and priorities outside of the normal rulemaking process. What is “Sue and Settle”?
A special interest group sues a federal agency to issue rules by a specific deadline. The special interest group and federal agency enter into a private settlement agreement. The settlement is lodged in court; once finished, it becomes legally binding for the agency. How Sue and Settle Works
Between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in over 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups. These cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations. How Common is Sue and Settle?
Significantly Influences Affected Federal Agencies: According to the director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in FY 2011 the agency spent more than 75% of its species listing budget to comply with settlement agreements and court-ordered requirements. What’s the Problem with Sue and Settle?
Causes Tremendous Economic Burdens: Compliance with rules and other requirements of settlement agreements can cost tens to even hundreds of billions of dollars each year. What’s the Problem with Sue and Settle?
Negative Implications for Public Policy: Because private settlement agreements are made confidentially, the public is kept in the dark, bypassing the normal rulemaking procedures necessary to create sound public policy. What’s the Problem with Sue and Settle?
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