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Original Action Alert:
Send an Email to Representative Collins Thanking him for Sponsoring Legislation to Require Public Involvement in “Sue and Settle” Cases
Please click the Send Message button to send an email to your Congressman, Representative Doug Collins, thanking him for introducing H.R. 1493, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2013. This legislation would ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity for input in “sue and settle” cases – before a settlement essentially sets public policy without the usual and customary processes that require the engagement of the public.
Representative Collins has introduced legislation, H.R. 1493, to reform the sue and settle problem that has plagued environmental regulations. Sue and settle was defined in a recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors: “Sue and settle occurs when an agency intentionally relinquishes its statutory discretion by accepting lawsuits from outside groups that effectively dictate the priorities and duties of the agency through legally binding, court-approved settlements negotiated behind closed doors—with no participation by other affected parties or the public.”
Sue and settle practices adversely affect motorized recreation. As indicated in the report, the overwhelming majority of instances of sue and settle actions from 2009 to 2012 have occurred in the environmental regulatory context, including suits brought under the Endangered Species Act. In fact the report notes that “…sue and settle cases and other lawsuits are effectively driving the regulatory agenda of the Endangered Species Act program at FWS (Fish and Wildlife Service).” This will necessarily have an impact on the availability of motorized recreation activities as the protection of habitat of endangered species can often lead to closures of motorized opportunities; whether or not such protection is warranted or supported by sound science.
Specifically, H.R 1493 would require agencies to give notice when they receive notices of intent to sue from private parties, afford affected parties an opportunity to intervene prior to the filing of the consent decree or settlement with a court, publish notice of a proposed decree or settlement in the Federal Register, and take (and respond to) public comments at least 60 days prior to the filing of the decree or settlement.
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