EPA harnessed: Pruitt Issues Directive to End EPA “Sue & Settle” Practice

From Dr. Roy Spencer, who says he received this via EPA’s email system. It isn’t on the EPA website yet, but I’m guessing their press office is running slow today due to the shock. However, it has been covered by the Washington Times who apparently got the same email. It was an “oral directive” since July.

Administrator Pruitt Issues Directive to End EPA “Sue & Settle” 

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt​

WASHINGTON (October 16, 2017) – In fulfilling his promise to end the practice of regulation through litigation that has harmed the American public, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued an Agency-wide directive today designed to end “sue and settle” practices within the Agency, providing an unprecedented level of public participation and transparency in EPA consent decrees and settlement agreements.

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress. Additionally, gone are the days of routinely paying tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to these groups with which we swiftly settle.”

Over the years, outside the regulatory process, special interest groups have used lawsuits that seek to force federal agencies – especially EPA – to issue regulations that advance their interests and priorities, on their specified timeframe. EPA gets sued by an outside party that is asking the court to compel the Agency to take certain steps, either through change in a statutory duty or enforcing timelines set by the law, and then EPA will acquiesce through a consent decree or settlement agreement, affecting the Agency’s obligations under the statute.

More specifically, EPA either commits to taking an action that is not a mandatory requirement under its governing statutes or agrees to a specific, unreasonable timeline to act. Oftentimes, these agreements are reached with little to no public input or transparency. That is regulation through litigation, and it is inconsistent with the authority that Congress has granted and the responsibility to operate in an open and fair manner.

“Sue and settle” cases establish Agency obligations without participation by states and/or the regulated community; foreclose meaningful public participation in rulemaking; effectively force the Agency to reach certain regulatory outcomes; and, cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars.

With today’s directive, Administrator Pruitt is ensuring the Agency increase transparency, improve public engagement, and provide accountability to the American public when considering a settlement agreement or consent decree by:

Publishing any notices of intent to sue the Agency within 15 days of receiving the notice;

Publishing any complaints or petitions for review in regard to an environmental law, regulation, or rule in which the Agency is a defendant or respondent in federal court within 15 days of receipt;

Reaching out to and including any states and/or regulated entities affected by potential settlements or consent decrees;

Publishing a list of consent decrees and settlement agreements that govern Agency actions within 30 days, along with any attorney fees paid, and update it within 15 days of any new consent decree or settlement agreement;

Expressly forbidding the practice of entering into any consent decrees that exceed the authority of the courts;

Excluding attorney’s fees and litigation costs when settling with those suing the Agency;

Providing sufficient time to issue or modify proposed and final rules, take and consider public comment; and

Publishing any proposed or modified consent decrees and settlements for 30-day public comment, and providing a public hearing on a proposed consent decree or settlement when requested.

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Thin Air
October 16, 2017 9:25 am

Sounds like democracy (finally). Good for Pruitt.

Reply to  Thin Air
October 16, 2017 11:49 am

“We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress. “

Outstanding , at last some concrete changes.

Now he just needs to shut down the Federal EPA all together. It is beyond reform.

Reply to  Thin Air
October 16, 2017 7:14 pm

So what is to stop the next Democrat POTUS bringing it back in? can this be enshrined in law so it takes Congress to repeal?

Reply to  Scott
October 17, 2017 1:00 am

“So what is to stop the next Democrat POTUS bringing it back in?”

I am surprised to see you asking that here, Mr Pruitt! 😉

Reply to  Scott
October 22, 2017 2:36 am

What is needed in addition is to file RICO suits for past Sue & Settle instances – against the EPA people involved, against the people suing, against lawyers on both sides, and against the judges. Exceeding statutory limits is a crime, and it should be treated as such!

Thin Air
Reply to  Thin Air
October 17, 2017 9:22 am

I looked at all the currently active Notices to Sue to EPA at this link:

It is worth a look.

I found this one from the Sierra Club quite interesting:

Its contains a very detailed analysis (after all the legal mumbo jumbo) of the environmental damage done to the MidWest of the US, due the excessive amounts of corn we are growing for Ethanol to burn in our gasoline tanks.

It demands action from the EPA to protect open grasslands (undeveloped, not farmed) from conversion to more corn ethanol crops. Seems to fail to mention how wasteful of energy, completely pointless and expensive it is to produce ethanol from food stocks like corn.

October 16, 2017 9:27 am

Heads are exploding at the Sierra Club and the WWF. I love it!

Reply to  Bobby Davis
October 16, 2017 10:18 am

It’s on their website now. Home page on the right under social media.

Reply to  Bobby Davis
October 16, 2017 1:17 pm

Great news – I love the smell of swamp monsters heads exploding in the morning -LOL -The Swamp draining continues!!!

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Bobby Davis
October 16, 2017 6:13 pm

And if you want to watch their heads explode, there’s this:


Leonard Lane
Reply to  Bobby Davis
October 16, 2017 10:24 am

I guess we will never know the full extent of the deliberate damage the Obama Administration did to this country. Occupy Wall Street for 2012 election, Black Lives Matter for the 2016 election (both radical Communist fronts), Sue and Settle, $billions to Iran, and on and on. Millions of evil acts by millions in the government. I can’t think of a single agency that wasn’t corrupted to some degree, and all to the detriment of the US and its citizens.

Reply to  Leonard Lane
October 16, 2017 3:53 pm

We are of like mind.

Reply to  Leonard Lane
October 16, 2017 11:26 pm

Part Deux: Review all the old “Sue and Settle” cases and reverse those that should never have seen the light of day. Then ask for the money back. I am sure th Tides Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Packard Foundation – ad infinitum – would be happy to come out from behind their trust funds to fund such a noble undertaking. Yeah right. Like any of the other Champagne Socialist, they never want to get their hands dirty. Might leave prints om the champagne glasses doncha know. Take a lesson fro Canada’s Hair Boy. Look at him sitting all curled up like a puppy dog while talking to Trump about NAFTA. 💕💕. That is what a Champagne Socialist looks like

Watch the series of the Outlander with Bonnie Prince Charlie- the great Champagne Socialist of his time. Well, ok. Canada’s Trust Fund Boy would never have survived back then. My apologies to Scots and Sasanacks everywhere. Canada’s Trust Fund Boy’ wouldn’t last a week back then.

Sorry for the rant. So many things need fixing.

Bit this is a start. Thanks Scott Pruitt.

Mark B.
Reply to  Bobby Davis
October 16, 2017 10:39 am

Vacuums IMplode.

Reply to  Mark B.
October 16, 2017 1:28 pm

With enough explosives you can make vacuums explode.:))

Reply to  Mark B.
October 16, 2017 2:55 pm

The most dangerous part of any implosion is that is is always followed by a reversal in the form of a violent explosion.

Brad Grubel
Reply to  Mark B.
October 16, 2017 3:54 pm

This is more like a black hole. All the green’s gray matter sucked into the black hole causing a purple haze in a blaze of glory for the Red, White and Blue! Whew! That’s all the colors I could get into this piece of great news!

Reply to  Mark B.
October 17, 2017 9:23 am

It was impressive, Braf. I’m Green with envy.

(just not watermelon green)


Reply to  Bobby Davis
October 16, 2017 11:06 am

George soreA$$ and Steyer are crying in their lattes!!

Reply to  Bobby Davis
October 16, 2017 4:13 pm

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups make a lot of money off the taxpayer by suing the EPA and then getting a huge settlement offer from them because they are sympathetic to their cause. The EPA was also in the habit of going after businesses for violating their rules and then offering to settle the matter if they donated money to certain environmental groups.

Leftists in government have become experts at redistributing public money to the unions and private groups they support, such as the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood. They, in turn, receive a portion of that money back in the form of donations. It’s a great money laundering scheme, as long as the party in power allows it to continue.

Now watch as many self-hating Republican politicians come out in opposition to what Pruitt and Trump are trying to do and in defense of Democrats using the treasury as their personal piggy bank. It is baffling. But I think these GOP politicians have become so used to being held captive by liberal policies, they have developed Stockholm syndrome. Either that, or they simply hate Trump so much that they oppose everything he does, even if it helps the opposition.

Reply to  Louis
October 17, 2017 9:29 am

When your snout is planted firmly in the trough you hate anyone who would cut off the endless swill, even if they are ‘on your team’.

And make no mistake, those Republican who are so opposed to Trump are lifetime Troughers.

October 16, 2017 9:30 am

Seems entirely pragmatic.

It’ll be interesting to see the number of cased falling when the greens realise they’re not going to get their legal costs paid as a matter of course.

Reply to  HotScot
October 16, 2017 9:50 am

Of the cases that aren’t withdrawn and actually go to court, I wonder how many the NGO’s will lose. How many cases against the EPA are currently pending?

Reply to  SMC
October 16, 2017 9:57 am

I found a link, https://www.epa.gov/noi/notices-intent-sue-us-environmental-protection-agency-documents-2016-2017

I counted 139 Notices of Intent to Sue the EPA since 2016…

Reply to  SMC
October 16, 2017 10:05 am

For those who didn’t know, the EPA indeed governs the ESA


Pacific walrus law suit was threatened last week. It will be interesting to see if it goes ahead:

“Group files notice it will sue Trump administration over walrus protection: ‘There’s no question Pacific walruses are endangered, so denying them protection is absurd and dangerous’


The Center for Biological Diversity is the main abuser of this sue-and-settle practice to get species listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA (they were behind the polar bear listing, of course).

Reply to  SMC
October 16, 2017 11:28 am

“(they were behind the polar bear listing, of course)”

You’d have thought they’d have learned by now.

NW sage
Reply to  SMC
October 16, 2017 5:18 pm

This brings up a question – how many such lawsuits have resulted in settlements {in the past 10myrs) which would NOT have been possible or occurred had such lawsuits not been filed? Why should these regulatory actions be considered valid and in effect? [since the standard bureaucratic procedures had been shortcut]

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  SMC
October 16, 2017 6:18 pm

How ironic is it that polar bears are one of the biggest threats to walruses?

Reply to  SMC
October 17, 2017 2:51 am

The Time Has Come The Walrus Said, To Speak With Truth and Honesty about Wildlife and Climate.

The Endangered Species Act is fertile ground for the Center for Biological Diversity and they used it to great effect when disseminating false claims about the status of the Polar Bear in the Arctic.

2005, the Centre for Biological Diversity petitioned the federal government to list polar bears as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

2006 –In December the Administration declared that the polar bear should be added to the endangered species list “because of the drastic melting of its habitat”. “This is a victory for the polar bear, and all wildlife threatened by global warming,” said Kassie Siegel, a lawyer for the Centre for Biological Diversity. “There is still time to save polar bears, but we must reduce greenhouse gas pollution immediately

For Polar Bears, read Penguins:
2006 – “These penguin species will march right into extinction unless greenhouse gas pollution is controlled,” said the center’s Kassie Siegel. “It is not too late to save them, but we must seize the available solutions to global warming immediately.”

Then the Walrus:
2008 – Formal scientific petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting protection of the Pacific walrus under the Endangered Species Act.

2010 – Unless we dramatically reduce our greenhouse emissions, the walrus is on a trajectory toward extinction,” said Rebecca Noblin, the Center’s Alaska director.

Who are they?
From 2010:
“Twenty years ago, they were Earth Firsters, living in tepees, trying to save spotted owls, and grafting together a shoestring budget from their unemployment checks. Today, the Center for Biological Diversity has a budget of $7 million, 62 full-time staffers, and 15 offices nationally.”

Loads of money:

February 13, 2009 (ENS) – “To fight climate change, the non-profit Center for Biological Diversity Thursday opened a new law institute in San Francisco and announced the dedication of an initial $17 million to the project.

Initial funding of $6.3 million for the Climate Law Institute has been provided by the California Community Foundation, The Sandler Foundation, The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, and others.”

Reply to  SMC
October 17, 2017 9:35 am

how many such lawsuits have resulted in settlements {in the past 10myrs)

What, JUST in the last 10 million years?

I’m glad we are narrowing it down a bit.


Reply to  HotScot
October 16, 2017 3:13 pm

This was a huge, and underreported, scam in the Obama years. It was so much worse than you know, or even what is reported here.

The sue and settle scam was perpetrated by EPA EMPLOYEES working with environmental groups. Minor EPA flunkies would identify actions they would like to take, and powers they would like to have, then talk behind closed doors with environmental groups and arrange for the lawsuit, giving the environmental groups everything they need to file.

Huge numbers of the suits could never have been won in court, since they ask for damages that did not occur, to parties not impacted, and involving actions EPA had no authority to govern. But who cares? They would settle with the environmental groups, giving them huge amounts of money, and being “forced” to do things they wanted to do anyway. It was really an abuse by federal employees who wanted to do whatever they thought necessary.

Whatever you feelings about the environment, it was a disgusting abuse of power by unelected officials.

Reply to  Geoman
October 16, 2017 3:56 pm

The EPA is a Commie rat nest.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Geoman
October 16, 2017 9:37 pm

If they left an email trail and have not yet bleach-bitted it, the EPA could now contest the settlements and DOJ should pursue both the employees and the greenies for conspiracy to subvert the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946, which established the process for creating new regulations. But that’s probably too much to ask for.

Tom Halla
October 16, 2017 9:31 am

Pruitt is being very bad boy, actually following the law. It is an example of the lack of proper concern for the expressed goals of NGO’s, and interfering with a major source of those groups funding./sarc

J Mac
October 16, 2017 9:42 am

More winning! This puts the boot on the throat of crony socialism… Excellent!

Richard Bell
Reply to  J Mac
October 16, 2017 12:24 pm

Crony socialism is when a gang of thieves promises to help the poor, but merely enrich themselves. Crony socialism is a kleptocracy. When it is croney-capitalists that are trying impose an authoritarian regime, as the crony-capitalists are determined to keep their positions of wealth and power, they crony-fascists. Reagan said that fascism will come to America under the guise of liberalism and he is much more likely to be right than those claiming fascism will come to America wrapped in a flag and bearing a cross.

Michael Keal
Reply to  Richard Bell
October 16, 2017 1:38 pm

J Mac
Reply to  Richard Bell
October 16, 2017 2:05 pm

“Crony Socialism is a Kleptocracy.”
Agree! That quite adequately describes the entire Obama regime, including the Clinton State Department!

October 16, 2017 9:50 am

> Providing sufficient time to issue or modify proposed and final rules, take and consider public comment;

This is a sea change (sorry). Prior to this public comments were merely accepted, not considered.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Rob Dawg
October 16, 2017 10:05 am

Good catch.

October 16, 2017 9:53 am

The best part of backroom Sue & Settle deals; settlements between the plaintiff and EPA were agreed upon before the suits were ever filed. https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/doj_enrd_foia_on_caa_cwa_esa_settlements_database.pdf

Reply to  nmbrz62426
October 16, 2017 9:59 am
Retired Kit P
Reply to  nmbrz62426
October 16, 2017 11:12 am

“Specifically, the Administrator has failed to promulgate federal
Case 1:17-cv-02002 Document 1 Filed 09/28/17 implementation plans to ensure that Mississippi and Alabama address conflicts of interest for
those who approve air pollution permits or enforce air pollution protective measures. Mississippi and Alabama are almost forty years late in having these conflict of interest avoidance and disclosure requirements in place. ”

Sierra Club lawyers in Oakland are suing in this case. Most of the filings do not seem to be citizens protecting the environment.

I looked for a real problem that needs to be solved. Regulating ammonia under the CAA is one example. The suit is targeting nuisance agricultural odors from from things like dairy farms.

I have been on many large well managed dairy farms that do not create an odor problem for their neighbors. However, I think the level of ammonia that is an odor issue is much below that related to occupation level regulated OSHA.

However, this is an issue that should be resolve based on the comment process and not settled behind closed by big city lawyers.

October 16, 2017 9:57 am

This makes the case for serious tort reform where if the plaintiff looses, they pay the legal costs of the other side. This will definitely put a stop to frivolous lawsuits like those pursued by green groups as well as frivolous malpractice suits which will bring down health care costs.

October 16, 2017 9:59 am

More swamp draining.

October 16, 2017 10:01 am

Send most of the EPA workforce out to clean up legacy sites by hand. Some of them could have been cleaned up a long time ago by proactive teams working out of work camps.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Resourceguy
October 16, 2017 10:31 am

That’s an outstanding idea!!

Reply to  john harmsworth
October 16, 2017 3:24 pm

john h
Agree – massively.


Brad Grubel
Reply to  Resourceguy
October 16, 2017 3:59 pm

Fire the EPA work force and let those who draw on SNAP cards and other public assistance do the work. Like the old WPA where folks had a chance to earn their own way and gain some pride along with new skills.

Retired Kit P
October 16, 2017 10:01 am

Environmental idiots often create a circular firing squad.

They demanded that their views be heard. Then they are surprised when others want to express other views.

October 16, 2017 10:03 am

This is the most significant change in Federal rule making in ages — absolutely brilliant!

It should be the GOLD STANDARD for all government agencies.

October 16, 2017 10:04 am


Roger Knights
October 16, 2017 10:06 am

Is there any way to unwind some of the previous settled suits?

Reply to  Roger Knights
October 16, 2017 10:16 am

The general answer is no.

Mark B.
Reply to  Roger Knights
October 16, 2017 10:42 am

New congressional legislation. So no.

Snarling Dolphin
Reply to  Roger Knights
October 16, 2017 3:44 pm

That’s too bad. Because this comes closer to a pattern of collusion than Meuller ever dreamt about the Russians. And I say that as a victim. An employee of a company that was sued, virtually forced to settle and diminished as a result.

October 16, 2017 10:12 am

Thank you Scott Pruitt.

George Tetley
Reply to  Resourceguy
October 16, 2017 10:20 am


October 16, 2017 10:13 am

“Excluding attorney’s fees and litigation costs when settling with those suing the Agency;…”

Joe Crawford
Reply to  David G Onkels
October 16, 2017 2:41 pm

Well, at least there goes one gravy train…

October 16, 2017 10:17 am

Good!. No, great! Working for the Bureau of Land Management I saw this all the time. Hopefully the other Federal agencies that are favorite targets of the rent seekers will follow suit.

October 16, 2017 10:32 am

Note to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt:

Environmental extremism has been a used as a blunt weapon to harm the economy of the USA and other countries in the developed world.

Global warming alarmism has been the most destructive and costly of these assaults on free nations, resulting in increased energy costs, reduced manufacturing competitiveness, lost jobs, reduced electric grid reliability, increased winter mortality, and the misallocation and waste of trillions of dollars of scarce global resources.

There should be serious consequences for those who overstepped their authority and used their government job as a bully pulpit to pursue their extremist agenda. Those who chose to “just go along” with illegal conduct because it was “the path of least resistance” have also betrayed their oath of office, their country and its people.

I suggest the next suitable step would be to give notice to all those in the EPA and environs who participated in this illegal “Sue and Settle” practice that there will be an investigation and those who fully participated and caused significant harm to the interests of the USA will be dismissed for cause, lose their pensions and might be charged with a criminal offence. Those miscreants who choose to resign within 30 days will not be prosecuted.

Law firms and consultants that earned large fees for collaborating in this illegal practice should be required to return all fees to the government or face similar punitive action. Alternatively, private citizens could initiate Civil RICO lawsuits in the USA to recover triple damages from those who have raided the public purse through environmental alarmist schemes.

It is time to bring proper accountability to those who have deliberately sabotaged the interests of the USA.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  Allan MacRae
October 16, 2017 11:51 am

More BS from Allen!

First off Scott Priutt is only in the USA. What stupid policies other countries have, are not subject to our legal system.

Second, American politicians are 99% talk when it comes to ghg. POTUS Bush establish incentives for renewable energy at a time the US was building facilities to import natural gas. Developing new sources of natural was the major factor increasing supply but the 4% from wind also helped.

POTUS Obama talked a lot but only took credit for things accomplished for other reason.

The US grid is more reliable than it has ever been. There has been no increase in morality, summer or winter, related to US power generation.

Working in the nuclear industry I know that we have been the target of every environmental extremist group around. They may win some lower court battles but lose in the long run. We stay in business because we do a good job producing power. Cheap fossil fuel is a challenge. Fossil fuel will not stay cheap without the 20% nuke contribution.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
October 16, 2017 12:38 pm

Kit – you clearly are challenged when it comes to reading ability.

None of your points have relevance to my post.


Reply to  Retired Kit P
October 16, 2017 1:19 pm

Kit, where is the “morality” in power generation? Most people I know in the power business appear to be moral beings.

October 16, 2017 10:38 am

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt​

‘Bout time. Should never have been done in the first place. The EPA lawyers must be gnashing teeth now.

October 16, 2017 10:52 am

Now all he has to do is get the lawyers involved to actually follow his directive.

Reply to  MarkW
October 16, 2017 11:22 am

Unnecessary. Without blood in the water (plaintiff fee awards) the sharks won’t circle.

October 16, 2017 10:55 am

Sue and Settle, sounds like a bad brother in law deal.

October 16, 2017 11:09 am

will any liberanos working for the EPA now quit??

October 16, 2017 11:34 am

Of all the Trump appointees Mr. Pruitt is one of a few that are making progress but there is a long way to go . Congratulations Mr. Pruitt the American people are better off as a result .
Sue and settle is white collar theft designed to rip off unknowing tax payers by hundreds of millions .
If some guy steals groceries he will be in jail if caught while lawyers , lobbyist’s and EPA insiders walk around free floating around on their bags of cash .
“when did they know ” Time to investigate the sue / settle con game orchestrated with EPA oversight and blessing .
Lets start with a list of “settlements ” and the con artists involved .

Reply to  Amber
October 16, 2017 3:38 pm

Except that those benefiting from Sue and Settle will now sue the EPA to try to reverse the directive. Probably tomorrow, and in the 9th District.

October 16, 2017 11:36 am

So much Winning!

October 16, 2017 11:37 am

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

October 16, 2017 11:55 am

The “sue and settle” practice was nothing knew when Obama came along although EPA and other agencies turned it into a new art form for passing regulation. When I arrived in my state’s capitol such behavior by the technocrats and attorneys was going on in more than a couple of agency. Our Legislature and Governor and Cabinet decided enough was enough. Bizarrely, one of the other components of the game was for state agencies to contract law firms to represent the agency before the court. Legislature didn’t like giving agency attorney positions. The way the contracts were written there was no incentive for the firm to ever settle or end a court degree. It cost millions a year. Meanwhile these same agencies were screaming they didn’t have enough money. At least three of the environmental organizations I dealt with were little more than employers for attorneys that couldn’t make it private practice. One such attorney bragged about it. One group was actually run by their attorneys with their board treating the attorneys as if they had some special, more complete knowledge about the environment.

Rick C PE
October 16, 2017 11:58 am

A positive development, but I doubt I’ll live to see any regulatory agency going to court and vigorously arguing against the need for a new regulation. Even under Trump/Pruitt I think the best we can hope for is EPA putting up a weak defense or settling when a suit is filed opposing a new regulation.

October 16, 2017 12:02 pm

I’m often asked by Liberal friends if I’m still happy about voting for Trump? “Yes,” I reply. “Why?” they rejoinder. “Scott Pruitt,” and I let it go at that. I could go on about revoking the Paris Accord, going ahead with the pipelines, Supreme Court considerations, and ramping up pressure (which was nonexistent) on North Korea and Iran, but every army needs soldiers to fight daily in the trenches, taking care of the details that the Devil is in, and Scott Pruitt more than any other in the Trump administration is that man. Others should take courage from his example and “lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Reply to  majormike1
October 16, 2017 4:03 pm

You can add Mick Mulvaney to your list.

Mark Johnson
October 16, 2017 12:07 pm

The environmentalist were very upset with Mr. Pruitt’s appointment. Now we have a better understanding WHY they were so upset. This cancels their meal ticket. These changes will significantly relieve some of the distortions and inefficiencies in the regulatory process and unshackle the forces of economic growth. At the same time, if there are legitimate reasons to litigate some environmental issues, let courts and juries decide. Drain the Swamp.

Joel Snider
October 16, 2017 12:10 pm

Gosh, you mean that shake-down/laundering scheme that would have put any non-government (or at least non-progressive) entities in prison?

Juan Slayton
October 16, 2017 12:11 pm

I’m beginning to like this guy Pruitt. But there are always unintended consequences. Can these changes act against litigants with genuine grievances? The King Mine fracazo comes to mind, along with various landowners affected by stream pollution rules. Someone with genuine loss should be able to recover legal costs, even in a settlement. Ristvan, you out there?

Reply to  Juan Slayton
October 16, 2017 12:40 pm

JS, IMO it will not affect legitimate greivances like Gold King at all. Sue and settle was NGO’s and others conspiring back door with EPA (even using back door email channels to avoid public records FOI) to get EPA settlements that were in effect regulations without going through the EPA’s congressionally mandated regulatory process, where they would likely have lost. The essence of Pruitt’s objection and change of policy.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  ristvan
October 16, 2017 7:10 pm

But the Gold King Mine debacle illustrates the incompetence and hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s EPA better than anything. When their own workers caused one of the biggest violations of the Clean Water Act in history, no one was held accountable. Had a private company caused that spill, Al Almendariz (former head of EPA Region 6) would have crucified their executives:


Now they claim they can’t even be held accountable for the damage they caused. “The EPA has acknowledged responsibility for the spill but said in January that federal law prevents it from paying the claims because of sovereign immunity, which prohibits most lawsuits against the government.”

October 16, 2017 1:30 pm

For the record, Scott Pruitt sued the EPA 13 times. Is he now claiming that he was wrong to do so? In the press release it states that the “EPA gets sued by an outside party that is asking the court to compel the Agency to take certain steps, either through change in a statutory duty or enforcing timelines set by the law, and then EPA will acquiesce” so it would appear that the issue is that the EPA regularly failed to enforce the law unless the courts forced it to. If the EPA doesn’t want to get sued then it needs to properly enforce the law. This does not seem to change anything except that various judges will now decide how the law is enforced rather than the EPA. Whether that is good or bad probably depends on the technical qualifications of the judge in question.

Roy Spencer
Reply to  Germinio
October 16, 2017 2:06 pm

While in Oklahoma, he sued to prevent EPA overreach. Now he is changing EPA’s bad practices to prevent further overreach.

Reply to  Roy Spencer
October 16, 2017 4:06 pm

Dr. Roy, yup. But he is also hving to manage his own inherited deep state swamp. My guess is that is why this new policy took so long to be announced. Remove/retire the worst swamp allegators, and let the rest know they have no EPA future if they continue to resist.

Reply to  Germinio
October 16, 2017 2:10 pm

You mention only the “sue” part, but how many times did EPA settle with him? I doubt that at that time EPA and Pruitt had the incestuous relationship that he is trying to put a stop to, so your stat is irrelevant.

Roy Spencer
Reply to  WR
October 16, 2017 2:18 pm


Reply to  Germinio
October 16, 2017 2:55 pm

Also, it is ALWAYS better for a judge to decide how/whether the law is being enforced than unaccountable EPA bureaucrats conspiring with lawyers and NGOs. This is the fundamental difference between a nation of laws and a banana republic. Technical qualifications of the judge are once again completely irrelevant.

Reply to  WR
October 16, 2017 3:03 pm

The thinking here seems to be that (a) the EPA wants to destroy the country but is too lazy to do so until NGO’s sue them in order to get them to enforce the law at which point they meekly capitulate and do so. Which does not seem very likely. If the EPA was so full of activists then it would be actively seeking to impose onerous regulations rather than having to be forced too by the threat of lawsuits. Alternatively if it is only the threat of lawsuits that causes the EPA to enforce the law then the EPA is actually on the side of business rather than green activists.

Reply to  Geronimo
October 16, 2017 3:48 pm

But, if the EPA merely enforced the laws and codes as written, then the lawsuit-funded enviro groups would NOT be funded by the EPA’s lost lawsuits!

No money from deliberately lost lawsuits = no lawyers = no enviro group money = no lawyer suites, no lawyer suits, coats, and ties. No law suits = no need for EPA budgets for EPA lawyers, and EPA suites, and EPA bureacrats, and EPA publicity (er, propaganda).

Robert W Turner
Reply to  WR
October 16, 2017 3:36 pm

You seem to be really confused about this. File this under ‘diffusion of culpability’ and collusion.


Gunga Din
Reply to  WR
October 16, 2017 4:39 pm

If the EPA was so full of activists then it would be actively seeking to impose onerous regulations rather than having to be forced too by the threat of lawsuits.

Why impose an obviously onerous regulation when an NGO will file a lawsuit, an activist EPA will cave, the NGO gets bucks and the settlement becomes the onerous regulation? The NGO wins. An activist EPA wins.
We The People lose.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Germinio
October 16, 2017 3:17 pm

You are confused. State AG’s (not individuals such as Pruitt) and industry groups have sued the EPA to protect citizens after the EPA or other regulatory agency hurriedly creates a ruling as a result of being sued and settling with environmental groups “representing” nature.

One side brings legitimate lawsuits representing people in response to an EPA overreach, and the other side is initiating lawsuits representing non-human entities – which always includes big payouts to the environmental groups themselves.

One of the latest examples is when wildlife groups sued to enlist the Lesser Prairie Chicken, which the FWS of course obliged and rushed a ruling along that placed all blame for LPC populations on local industry, despite the literature showing range management practices, drought, and the introduction of Asian Pheasant as the likely reasons for the acute downturn in LPC population. The states won the lawsuit against the ruling on legal grounds showing that the FWS did not follow the law in creating the ruling — not even on the grounds that the science they were citing was junk.

Do you get it now? Sue and settle tactics is an industry created out of pure sophistry, one that claims that groups of attorneys can represent non-human entities on their behalf and best interests, all while raking in 7-figure incomes. The other side is merely reactionary to these rulings that were created from the sue and settle industry. Without the sue and settle industry, there will be no need for real industry and states to protect themselves from draconian overreach.

October 16, 2017 3:40 pm

Give us examples of what was actually done. This article is nithing but meaningless generalities. Arno Arrak

Gunga Din
October 16, 2017 4:09 pm

Why does this remind me of the scene where Frodo uses Sting to cut Shelob’s web?

Reply to  Gunga Din
October 16, 2017 4:43 pm

Frodo didn’t use Sting on Shelob. That was Samwise, after Frodo had been stung by Shelob. Yes, Frodo did cut some of her webs while attempting to get through Torech Ungol but it was Sam that stuck Sting in her.

Reply to  Gunga Din
October 16, 2017 4:48 pm

Why did I get put in moderation? What did I say?

October 16, 2017 4:23 pm

You realize of course that some corrupt liberal judge will rule this action as illegal and unconstitutional; thereby blocking the proper (and legal) constitutional process.

Reply to  Barbee
October 16, 2017 4:44 pm

Which will be appealed and eventually be settled by the Supreme Court.

Reply to  Barbee
October 16, 2017 4:49 pm

Why did I get put in moderation, again? What did I say?

Reply to  Barbee
October 16, 2017 6:38 pm

Only SCOTUS has constitutional authority to exist independently of the other branches. All the lower federal courts exist solely at the pleasure of Congress and are subject to being reorganized or outright dissolved.

Now that would be a real “Nuclear Option”!

October 16, 2017 4:34 pm

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress. Additionally, gone are the days of routinely paying tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to these groups with which we swiftly settle.”

Great, my first lawsuit:

All natural sources of all of the innocent molecules which Boomers declared toxic pollutants should be posted.

The figures in Gt of yearly emissions from natural sources should also be provided to the public for scrutiny.

This shall include volcanic eruptions and the products of lightning strikes and other electrical discharges in air, as well as from forest fires in California and Western lands, since the US Forest Services is so fond of natural fires on state land as a method of natural forest management.

All uses and applications of each these compounds must be listed. This way people can understand what they are outlawing or regulating.

Estimates of anthropogenic sources should be provided for public scrutiny and meaningful comparison with the natural sources.

Required for the front page of all EPA websites and in all EPA communications.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  Zeke
October 16, 2017 6:03 pm


I have no problem finding the natural releases of most regulated substances on EPA web sites. There are usually annual reports. What is your point?

For example, releasing oil from a power plant is regulated. Problem solved.

The point in this discussion some use the legal system to further their agenda without letting science getting in the way.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
October 20, 2017 4:04 pm

Retired Kit P says, “I have no problem finding the natural releases of most regulated substances on EPA web sites. There are usually annual reports. What is your point?

For example, releasing oil from a power plant is regulated. Problem solved.”

I am referring to the natural emissions of halocarbons, CFCs, benzenes, phenols, carbon monoxides, ozone, and nitrogen (di &)oxides into the atmosphere. These need to be quantified and constantly kept before the EPA. Because the EPA under the Boomers believe that once something is pronounced “not good” by the environmentalists, they can — and will — reduce it to zero exposure. That is the pattern of that generation’s regulatory science.

But the occurrence of these compounds in nature are rarely due to human activity. The main sources of these compounds are volcanoes, phytoplanckton, ocean outgasing, lightning, the aurorae, and other electrical discharges in earth’s atmosphere. How much is due to human activity? In all these cases, it would be a similar situation with the carbon dioxide molecule, with manmade sources a miniscule portion of the natural cycle.

Sorry for the delay in replying. Have a good day.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 16, 2017 5:29 pm

You won’t see this covered by the BBC. Instead I have been treated to 10 days of climate alarm ‘nudges’ and interviews with ‘haters’ and endless pop-ups about some naked clown called Weinstein. The independent investigation of truth has become more difficult of late. The communication channels are clogged with the bleats of breast-beating confessors. (Did I really say that?? Are we still allowed to speak English?) It is getting difficult to find a well-read, intelligent person with whom to have long and informative intercourse.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 16, 2017 5:36 pm

“is getting difficult to find a well-read, intelligent person with whom to have long and informative intercourse.”
Welcome to Twitter.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 16, 2017 6:15 pm

If having a law degree is an indication of being well read and intelligent, the problem is lying.

There is no point in having a discussion with a Green Peace representative.

Some you can learn from and some you can teach. Some enjoy enjoy the drama of sticking to their agenda.

Retired Kit P
October 16, 2017 5:44 pm

“Kit, where is the “morality” in power generation? Most people I know in the power business appear to be moral beings.”


I am not sure what prompted this question. One of the reasons I enjoyed working in the industry was the integrity of the people I worked with. One of the difficulties in doing the right thing, is reaching an agreement on what the right thing is.

Maybe being ethical is easier for engineers. For activist and some environmental lawyers, the end seems to justify the means.

However, the most expensive, most dangerous, with the highest environmental impact is the MW/h not available when it is needed.

There are consequences for not keeping the lights on.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Retired Kit P
October 16, 2017 7:36 pm

Kit, I think from your 11:51 AM post, you intended to say mortality instead of morality. At least that’s how I read it.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  Juan Slayton
October 17, 2017 10:18 am

Thank you Juan.

It is mistakes like that which provide ammunition for lawsuits.

Having a ‘mindset’ is a common ‘root cause’ for mistakes. I was revising a calculation which as result change the numbers in a license application. I noticed that ‘upstream’ was used when ‘downstream’ was correct. At least 30 engineers, read and accepted the word wrong because they knew what it was suppose to say.

Everyone was focused on the numbers in the calculation.

October 16, 2017 6:23 pm

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

Mark Twain

October 16, 2017 6:50 pm

Attorneys are obligated to present a vigorous defense for their client — regardless of guilt/innocence.

Every attorney working at the EPA involved in these schemes should be disbarred. They did not provide their client with honest representation.

Similarly, Justice Dept. attorneys like Sally Yates should also be disbarred for failing to defend their client’s interests to the fullest extent of the law.

The most prolific creature in the swamp is the attorney.

Donald Kasper
October 17, 2017 12:40 am

Organizations sue the EPA, get agreements not part of any law, then get their coffers repaid to be able to sue again. This cycle is over. Whoa boy. Costs for environmental organizations just went through the roof by billions.

Ed Zuiderwijk
October 17, 2017 2:12 am

‘Excluding attorney’s fees and litigation costs …. ‘

That’ll make the lawyers think twice before jumping on the bandwagon.

October 17, 2017 5:33 am

This is good, but not good enough. The real abuse by the EPA is the imposition of fines on a per deium basis for compliance. The only way out is to comply, and if the party believes the EPA is wrong, the only recourse is to sue the EPA. This costs big monies, on top of the threat of having to pay the fine. It is a way of imposing the EPAs will without due process.

This does nothing to stop anyone from suing the EPA, it just bars a behind closed doors settlement. Having to settle in court is better, but in many cases will be decided by judges who may not have the will to follow the law.

Coach Springer
October 17, 2017 5:54 am

Is this like an official admission of prior guilt? I don’t think Lisa Jackson was admitting anything like what Pruitt has found necessary to dismantle. She was nudging and winking a lot though.

October 17, 2017 9:56 am

And now what Congress needs to do is pass a law so that any settlement agreement must get approval from the House subcommittee who has oversight of that agency. This way it can’t be reinstated in 3 years.

Retired Kit P
October 17, 2017 10:48 am

“Attorneys are obligated to present a vigorous defense for their client — regardless of guilt/innocence.”

This is about civil law not criminal law. If I would make a ‘material false statement’ to the NRC related to a nuke plant, I would prosecuted in criminal court.

This was how it was explained to be in a course for engineers on environmental law.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  Retired Kit P
October 17, 2017 11:22 am

This was how it was explained to be in a course for engineers on environmental law.

Continuing. In civil court, environmental lawyers will file brief that might list 25 reasons, many of them mutually exclusive. Then you go judge shopping. All it takes is one judge to accept one reason and project is tied up in court.

True story. One of projects was stopped because of claims of ‘environmental racism’ in Louisiana. The project was renamed and built in New Mexico. Apparently wearing a white lab coat working in a clean room environment is racism if you black but is okay if you are brown.

It may have had something to do with the NM governor having been Secretary of Energy under Clinton and recognizing the merits of a $3 billion project providing hundreds of jobs.

October 17, 2017 11:18 am

Is EPA now a model for the other old growth agencies?

October 21, 2017 11:38 pm

The EPA worked diligently to sell out the USA while most people had no idea what they were doing .
Mr . Pruitt knows first hand what they were doing and is unraveling a massive mess .
Good luck to him and his staff .
Sue / settle names, $ and details should be openly available and publically exposed for the fraud they are .
Was Exxon to be the next one ? Who knew indeed . Is there any doubt ? Just a little to late .

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