EPA chief wants to prevent the public from forcing his agency to do its job

Credit: EPA

Scott Pruitt has never been an advocate of regulations that protect health and the environment, but now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator is taking his don’t-tread-on-polluters stance a step further by issuing a directive that urges his agency to avoid the practice commonly referred to as “sue and settle.” Basically, when the EPA fails to meet statutory deadlines to issue rules that protect the American public from pollution, outside groups, including environmental and public health organizations, can sue the agency and essentially force it to comply with the law. The EPA then reaches settlement agreements with these groups, because it knows it can’t defend its violations in court. Pruitt now wants to put an end to those settlements, stating: “The days of regulation through litigation are over.” But that’s really just a twisted way of saying that the days of holding the EPA accountable are over. The effect won’t just be the EPA wasting taxpayer money as it fights unwinnable lawsuits, but also prolonging delays that allow polluters to keep on polluting. 

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