An opinion on the ‘EPA Gravy Train’ – and why shutting it down is a good thing

Foreword by Paul Dreissen.

Author, advisor and former US Senate aide and Colorado Department of Natural Resources director Greg Walcher has written an important article on how sue-and-settle lawsuits ignored and abused our fundamental rights to legal due process from their very beginning – while enriching the environmentalist groups that brought the legal actions. He also explains why EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was absolutely right to terminate the practice.

Walcher’s analysis should be read by every legislator, regulator, judge … and actual or potential victim of this infamous practice.


Time to get them off our gravy train

Sue and settle schemes reward pressure groups, and hurt the rest of America

by Greg Walcher

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently issued a directive to end a 20-year string of “sue and settle” cases that have funneled untold millions of tax dollars to environmental organizations. Predictably, those groups and their allies have been apoplectic about it.

Many of these groups have grown from grassroots citizen movements to gigantic cash-flush conglomerates, with much of the cash coming from the government they appear or pretend to be fighting. Many now have separate legal arms with hundreds of attorneys, whose primary job is to sue the government and keep the cash flowing. They are part of the $13-billion-per-year U.S. environmental industry and lobby.

These organizations vehemently object to the phrase “sue and settle,” claiming it oversimplifies a very complex legal procedure. But in fact, the strategy isn’t really very complicated at all.

Congress has created a mess, with all sorts of processes and procedures agencies must follow in making rules and decisions. Every step of the way, those decisions are subject to potential lawsuits. For entirely different reasons, Congress also authorized the government to pay the legal bills of people who are forced to sue to defend their interests against government overreach.

It didn’t take long for clever organizations, and their allies in government, to figure out how to turn that combination into a massive public policy ATM that gives them our money to finance their ideologies, disinformation campaigns, and more activism.

Government officials sometimes get frustrated by that pesky process required to make decisions that they think should be quick and easy. That’s where “sue and settle” comes in.

A “friendly” organization files a lawsuit demanding the very action the officials want to take anyway. So the government agency reaches an out-of-court settlement – often in a carefully selected friendly court – in which the agency agrees to the action demanded by the lawsuit, and agrees to pay the organization’s legal fees as part of its penance.

The court agrees to the settlement, part of which often seals the details (such as legal fees), making it difficult for anyone to track these deals. The parties who are most directly affected by the decisions are left out of the process; they never get to testify, never get their day in court, because the case was settled without going to court.

About 20 years ago, government agencies stopped collecting data on these settlements, so that they were no longer “able to” (or had to) report to Congress on the amount of money involved, or the groups to whom our tax money was being paid. Long-time observers know it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, and the recipients are mostly large environmental organizations.

Mr. Pruitt was right to direct an end to such abuses. Almost immediately, a group of 58 former EPA attorneys wrote a letter sharply criticizing his action, arguing that ending the practice will somehow harm the American people, as well as “fair and efficient operations” at EPA. Their letter is 13 pages long and has 23 footnotes, but you have to expect that from lawyers. For anyone who cares to wade through all the verbiage, their explanation is very telling.

The lawyers accuse Pruitt of “attempting to give regulated parties a special and powerful seat at the table with no corresponding role for other members of the public.” In other words, in their view, people who have no direct stake in the ruling should have the same seat at the same table as those directly affected.

They also claim the new directive does “a grave injustice by alleging, without evidence, collusion with outside groups.” They should know; these are some of the same folks who made sure that allegation would be “without evidence,” by hiding the attorney fees, other financial payments and other details of these settlements from Congress and the public.

Most telling of all, though, is this little gem from page eleven: “It is EPA’s failure to comply with legal requirements that is the problem, not the people who sue EPA….”

That is a remarkable contradiction from the letter’s signatories, who began by claiming the Pruitt directive would harm “fair and efficient operations” at EPA. That is, operations under rules that they devised to serve themselves and their allies, agendas and ideologies, especially during the Obama years.

Two more things you should know about the 58 former EPA employees who signed the letter. First, they are partisans who regularly criticize the current Administration. Most of the same people signed a similar letter on April 27, titled “Earth Warms While Trump Ignores Science,” as well as a February 15 letter to senators opposing Pruitt’s confirmation.

Second, and perhaps more important, they are environmental attorneys who object to ending the secretive gravy train that has paid the salaries of environmental attorneys for years. Could some of them now be working for organizations that sue the government, hoping to get their own “fair share” of these lucrative settlements? Might their paychecks actually depend on that very system?

“Sue and settle” is a gravy train never envisioned by Congress. It cannot withstand public scrutiny.

These attorneys ought to recall, and adhere to, the ethics of “Paper Chase” star John Housman, who once touted financial managers who “make money the old fashioned way – they earn it.”

__________

Greg Walcher (www.GregWalcher.com) is president of the Natural Resources Group and author of “Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back,” now in its second printing. He is a former head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

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89 thoughts on “An opinion on the ‘EPA Gravy Train’ – and why shutting it down is a good thing

  1. Greg:
    As always you present a clear picture of the corruption at the EPA by federal officials, lawyers and enviros. Always enjoy reading your thoughts.

    • “In one of its final moves before President Obama leaves office, the Environmental Protection Agency refused to pay 73 claims totaling $1.2 billion filed by tribes, farmers, river-rafters and local governments from the August 2015 wastewater spill, citing sovereign immunity under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

      Western lawmakers were floored by Friday’s decision, pointing to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s numerous assurances that the agency would take responsibility for the damage caused by the EPA-led crew, which unleashed 3 million gallons of mustard-colored contamination into the Animas and San Juan rivers and three states.”
      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/19/obamas-epa-refuses-pay-claims-gold-king-mine-spill/

    • Interesting question. Usually when settlement details are sealed by a court, both parties are bound. I don’t know what the penalty would be if the EPA were to disclose previously sealed settlement terms. Contempt of court comes to mind.

      However, I believe nothing stops Scott Pruitt from listing all the settlements reached in the past 20 years for which attorney fees were paid and asking the other parties to consent to disclosure. If they refuse, the reasonable conclusion is because they don’t want the details known, which undercuts the claim than Pruitt is “alleging without evidence [EPA] collusion with outside groups”.

      And actually the EPA has (or damned well should have) exact figures on all the settlements they’ve paid, so it should be a simple matter to call the bluff by saying “consent to publish the settlement details” to all the organizations who have sued the agency.

      All in all, I think this is a weak move by these attorneys.

  2. Good article. Thanks. I suspect that Trump voters could tell they were being ripped off by the green industry without knowing exactly how. I confess I had to read and re-read the bit referring to “It is EPA’s failure to comply with legal requirements that is the problem, not the people who sue EPA….” before I could make sense of it. Eventually I interpreted it thus (have I got it right?): If a green group thinks that a govt agebcy has failed to comply with legal requirements, then under Scott Pruitt’s rules, they can sue and will have their case heard in court. Somehow, in their warped way of thinking, this is worse than not being heard in court. And they are lawyers.

  3. The exact same thing happens HERE in CA … with Californian taxpayers funding so-called non-profit Eco Law Firms that rake in the Lawsuit dollars. Quite separate from and in addition to the Federal EPA funding of the same charade. I would dearly love to see an accounting of how many $ tens of millions of dollars the CA taxpayers PAID for the “new” SF-Oakland Bay Bridge … that took DECADES to approve. Not to mention each and every freeway expansion. All based on the FRAUD of AGW.

  4. One change I would like is that every EPA decision is challengeable through an EPA administrative process. Many a person has been steamrolled by the EPA with rulings that can’t be challenged. Second, all enforcement actions are delayed until all appeals have been exhausted.

  5. “A “friendly” organization files a lawsuit demanding the very action the officials want to take anyway. So the government agency reaches an out-of-court settlement – often in a carefully selected friendly court – in which the agency agrees to the action demanded by the lawsuit, and agrees to pay the organization’s legal fees as part of its penance.”

    I need some sort of example I can follow/relate the descriptors/labels to, apparently (friendly organization, the very action the officials want to tale away . . As is, it’s pretty much gibberish to me . .

    • Here’s a link to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce site. It gives examples.

      There’s a list of ten costly regulations resulting from sue and settle agreements. The most expensive seems to be the reconsideration of the 2008 Ozone NAAQS. They put the cost of that one at 90 billion per year.

      With such staggering costs at stake, it is important that regulatory oversight not be short-circuited by these sue and settle shenanigans.

      • PiperPaul December 22, 2017 at 7:06 pm

        90 billion per year? That does sound like the number might be off.

        There are around 264 million registered passenger vehicles in America. link If every one of those cost an extra $340 to operate every year, because of needless regulations, that would account for the 90 billion. I have no idea if that’s the real reason. I’m using it as an example to demonstrate that over-regulation can have a huge effect on the economy if it affects enough people.

        On the other hand, the Chamber of Commerce has a point of view and probably isn’t above stretching a few numbers to support that. I would take the 90 billion figure with a grain of salt.

    • The Clean Air Act contained a provision allowing private citizens to sue if they think a federal agency is not performing its duties properly. The trick is, if they win, then the agency pays for all of their expenses and legal fees, so this process is quite profitable.

      An example of how sue and settle worked – the EPA wanted to shut down some large coal plants, but the economic damage was huge, and they knew there would be trouble with Congress if they did. So the EPA got the Sierra Club and several other groups to sue them, alleging that the EPA refused to act. Then the EPA refused to put up any defense, and “Settled” the lawsuit, the settlement being what the EPA always wanted to do but knew Congress wouldn’t let them. Once accepted, this “settlement” had the authority of a Federal Court Order, which would be virtually impossible for a divided Congress to overturn, and the EPA could say “we didn’t do it, a Federal Judge did it”, and the plants they wanted to get shut down got shut down. (but in fact the EPA had done it by refusing to put up a defense)

      And so EPA gets what it wants in spite of Congress, the Sierra Club and other groups get paid off with Federal Money, and the American people get screwed by the process, since policy was now being made by a tight little left wing cabal that had learned a trick to do whatever they wanted.

      THIS is what Pruitt put an end to. The shocking thing is that the corruption was allowed to go on so long, but then a lot of people were making a lot of money from it, (and all of the dem’s were cheering them on)

      • All of this was facilitated by hidden communications via private email by the EPA administrators that was hidden from the public and this was unable to be FOYAed.

    • Thanks, Bob and wws, now it makes more sense . . The wording (it seems to me) kinda made me think it was not what I had thought was going on . . It is a hard thing to describe briefly though.

    • You have the basic picture, John.

      Greg Walcher, it can’t be said any better than that. Whew.

      Apologies in advance for this lengthy post.

      I have followed these thinly disguised EPA socialists/marxists in their attempt to control America’s land and water—their first order of business always being to takeover of private property and place it under a central control. Following is a good summary of this fight over the right to own private property in Russia in a 2001 article by Leon Aron, “Land Privatization”

      https://www.aei.org/publication/land-privatization/

      Good EPA “laws” (“rules”, “regulations”) are long extinct, but if you had to pick one it would be the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) passed by congress four years after the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire (Google images for Cuyahoga river fire burning—it wasn’t the first time) because of the pollution in it.

      The Act authorized the clean-up of this kind of mess in America’s NAVIGABLE lakes, rivers, and streams, and prohibited further dumping of dangerous industrial chemicals, waste, and other byproducts into America’s waters and waterways. It also allowed states to manage the clean-up of their own waters under the Clean Water Act (CWA), and enabled federal and state officials to work together to get the job done.

      Fast forward and we find today the EPA attempting to roll these navigable CWA rules onto America’s ranchers, farmers, and private property owners—for a third time, this one under a Waters of the United States (WOTUS) scheme after the CWA has twice been upheld by the Supreme Court.

      What they’re trying so desperately to do is redefine again Congress’s intent and definition of navigable waters to include all waters in the United States and by fiat, the land it’s on, the land under which it runs, and the land it runs off of.

      Meaning if it rains on a piece of land, that land, the water and/or the land it runs-off of or soaks into, will be under EPA “authority”.

      Meaning if a dry ditch, pot hole, creek, or dirt tank on a rancher’s or farmer’s land stands water a few days after a heavy rain or a dry creek rises, the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) proposals would give the EPA “authority” over that normally dry ditch, pot hole, creek, or tank on that piece of land.

      Meaning dry land drainages that aren’t navigable, boatable, fishable, or swimmable, and that defy all jurisdictional need under the CWA, could be “regulated” by the EPA.

      Meaning the EPA is attempting to gain illegal “control” of America’s farms, ranches, and private property using an un-Constitutional presidential Executive Order and EPA “rules and regulations” that EPA’s socialists—not congress—wrote without first going through congress to do it. IOW, deliberately by-passing congress.

      This is the largest, illegal, private property land grab attempt in U.S. history. Not only would it give the EPA control of the water on private property, it also requires EPA/Corps of Engineer permits for ordinary, necessary, and routine tasks required to successfully run and operate a ranch or farm.
      This EPA land grab scheme is similar to endangering species that aren’t , and exactly like the EPA’s model bait-and-switch “oops-you just-lost-control-of-your-land” conservation easements that were monikered as “. . .saving endangered plants and animals and preserving land for future generations”. But, when landowners signed one of these model bait and switch “conservation easements” with an NGO, the control of that land went immediately to the easement holder in perpetuity unless the landowner had the foresight to set himself up as the easement holder, in which case the NGO buyer wouldn’t sign it because they couldn’t then turn around and “donate” that property/easement to the federal government, the government being Constitutionally prohibited from buying state-owned land other than as specified in the Constitution, or that has been permitted by a state’s legislature.

      The EPA lipsticked its WOTUS pig as “. . . clean, healthy water for all.”

      Besides taking control of private property, WOTUS, like the EPA’s “conservation easements” and reintroduction of non-endangered wolves in America, is about driving down the market value of privately-owned land and its owners off, or out of business, or to sell off the property so The Chosen and foreign speculators can swoop in and buy it for pennies on the dollar. WOTUS rules are deliberately vague and purposed to give the EPA wide swath with its ax. So much so that interpretations of WOTUS by the EPA’s own employees are contradictory.

      Lawsuits were filed by large organizations with the muscle to stop this EPA attempted land grab, and its in the courts today. Most Individual ranchers, farmers, and private property owners normally can’t do this unless they have deep pockets. The EPA and NGO’s know this. But when an individual does decide to challenge the EPA in court, he/she must jump through federal hoops to do it.

      “Sue and settle”, so accurately detailed in WUWT’s guest article today, is a court gambit that’s used by non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) like the center for biological diversity, who’re currently trying to get more penned-raised Mexican wolves released throughout Arizona and New Mexico. They can sue the USFWS for NOT having a wolf recovery-endangered wolf restoration plan, get a federal ruling from a federal judge in a federal court that “forces” a federal agency like the USFWS to come up with a federal plan to release more Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. After the federal judge rules on the case in favor of the NGO, the USFWS or federal agency can tell the public “. . . we have no choice but to obey the court’s order . . . and fees for this legal Kabuki is paid for with tax dollars.

      This is how the EPA uses “sue and settle” to advance its socialist agenda “legally” without having to go back through congress—who’s charged Constitutionally with passing America’s laws. NGO’s—or any other federal agency wanting to sue another agency—can use this “sue and settle” federal court gambit using federal/contract lawyers before a federal judge—all of whom are paid from the same federal pot. It’s a centralized stacked federal deck used often by envirocrats deliberately placed in positions to do so, and is often used with a wink, a nod, and a predetermined outcome.

      WOTUS is a deliberate attempt to takeaway private property rights in America—something right out of a rogue king’s, war lord’s, dictator’s, despot’s, or a communist Bolshevik/Alinsky playbook.

      This is why the founders wrote our Constitution the way they did. It’s not a “living document” as The City and their controlled world propaganda outlets (MSM) blare at the public, to be shredded every few years by gluttonous bankers bent on controlling earth’s resources and people for personal profit.

      America’s Constitution was written to keep government and its gofers out of America’s living rooms, back yards, and off our lands. The international bankers’ end game is to nullify the Constitution using bureaucratic agencies like the EPA to seize private property and other rights with agency “rules and regulations”—all of which are un-Constitutional.

      Absent the right to own private property and rule of law, you’re left with an “ism”—fascism, socialism, communism—and a central control system for everything, including land and water, that benefits only a handful of psychopathic criminals at the top.

      How is it the EPA and Obama could ignore Constitutionally established Congressional and Supreme Court law? Here’s one way that helped them get away with it so far.

      https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/the-history-and-danger-of-administrative-law/

  6. This is excellent. Breitbart covered it recently as well.

    By the way, in the following quote an ‘l’ would appear to have gone missing:

    The lawyers accuse Pruitt of “attempting to give regulated parties a special and powerful seat at the table with no corresponding role for other members of the pubic.”

  7. The green NGOs and the EPA were an example of regulatory runaway, with the EPA tending to act mainly in the interests of the NGOs, not balancing the actual public interests. The court system has tended to act in the interests of lawyers, rather than the public, so this is not an unusual bureaucratic occurrence.
    This is particularly bad, as many of the EPA staff will go on to work for the NGOs, so assuring a funding source for their future employers is a definite conflict of interest.

  8. Long overdue. Now, sever the secret back channel links to the NGOs outside FOI. Next, fire anyone who disobeys these clear directions. Enough Lisa McCarthy EPA bad behavior already.

      • Regretably, it wasn’t illegal. Just unethical. Illegal maybe the back channel communications stuff. Illegal certainly the Gold King mess for which there were no repercussions.

    • So they have jobs or retirement to leave for…good for them. Or maybe they are leaving to work for Dem-funded activist and lobbyist orgs.

      • Yeah. What about all the people who lots jobs, businesses and incomes as a result of their actions? Do they get government-funded buyout packages and cushy retirement plans too?

    • Awesome!! These EPA leaches are … self-deporting!! WINNING !!!! Gawwwddd … I LOVE … MY President!!! We’ve been waiting soooooo long for this!!

    • What do you call 700 long-term EPA employees who are depressed since Trump took office and are QUITTING the EPA ? A good start. Trump is doing for the Federal Bureaucracy what Recessions do for the Private Sector … clean out all the DEAD WOOD … who are non-functional, or outright counterproductive employees. WINNING !!! All of America is WINNING !!!

      PS … if I actually thought these 700 were actually DOING something to “save the environment” … I would be sad. But I hold no such delusions.

    • I read that. Yes, that is why I voted for Trump. Pruitt is following through on the promise to end the bureaucratic regulatory state. Those people have to go, and a lot more.

      That NYT article focuses on a the Lead science study group, and how it is being gutted. What else do we need to learn about lead and the environment. It is bad. It is neurotoxin for developing brains. Lead paint is outlawed. Leaded gasoline is gone. The last Lead mine in the US shut down in 2014. We are getting rid of lead where we can. We don’t need to waste taxpayer dollars studying its effects any longer. If there are relevant science issues for policy on lead, then fund academic research grants to a university toxicology group. There is no reason for the US government to keep a permanent professional staff of scientists on the payroll to study lead and its toxicity.

      • It’s why I voted for Trump too. Well that, and because I can’t stand that #^$% Hillary Clinton.

      • What is funny is the NYT tries to portray this as a bad thing. While his supporters are cheering!!
        Yeah Obama’s Progressive legacy is getting gutted to cheering throings of Republicans-conservatives.

        And just F George Will. I used to respect that George Will. He has shown himself as a Bush-style swamp creature. Flush him too.

      • There is not even conclusive science that Pb is neurotoxic at trace levels as from say leaded petrol.
        Early on, Pb poisoning research dealt with large doses, like children with pica for lead, eating putty with lead paint, etc. There was a relationship between kids with pica and low intelligence scores. Researchers chose to look for biochemical mechanisms. Few realised that it was dumber kids who mostly ate the putty, this being the reverse causation argument that was largely ignored.
        Objectively, lead as Pb is not the bogey man that activists make out.
        More post-normal science, funded by your friendly but ignorant government.

  9. …Jan Nation, who works in E.P.A.’s Region 3, based in Philadelphia, where 46 people either retired or took a buyout this year, lamented the administration’s approach to federal workers.

    “We are not the swamp. The swamp are all the people who don’t have a specific function to make our government work,” Ms. Nation said. “If you have a swamp to drain, I know people in the Army Corps of Engineers who can do it”…

    First of all, someone who works in the EPA should know you can’t just go-around draining actual swamps. They are of vital ecological and environmental importance.

    Secondly, suggesting people in the USACE can successfully accomplish such a thing is a stretch.

    Ironically/coincidentally, the 2nd speaker on the USACE “I am the corps” video studies “ice core samples in order to predict future climate change.”
    http://www.usace.army.mil/Careers/

  10. The US government has been slowly corrupted over the decades to do the bidding of the Socialist cabal intent on supplanting Capitalism and the Constitution. It’s been so slow and insidious that people haven’t become alarmed. A compliant MSM has provided the shaming, misinformation, and hid the true nature of the movement. AGW is the most audacious of their attempts at taking over. Most people dump these claims into the conspiracy bin because they can’t believe the subversion is so deep and hidden in plain sight.

  11. I like to watch “House Hunters International”, sort of like a travelogue. I have seen multiple of these with employees of “non-profits” searching for homes, usually in great places to live. Often can “work” from home. They always seem to be well to do, looking in the best neighborhoods. I am really hoping Trump ends the government liberal full employment policies like this at EPA, and similar ones at DOJ that fund these non profits. Jeff Sessions stopped (is reviewing) the Obama policy where the DOJ would sue whoever (Cities, police departments, etc.) and then settle with a consent decree that funded liberal activist organizations. No actual trial or court ruling. Just the suit then the settlement. The same method, just extortion, and funding to liberal organizations. The Trump administration is stopping this scam, The DOJ first now the EPA,

    The next thing would be for the Trump administration to promulgate regulations to require all non profits that qualify for tax deductible donations to specify the percentage of donations that go to administrate and legal fees, not to the end beneficiary of the organization, on all advertisements for fundraising efforts. That regulation would show that MOST major non profits really only exist for the benefit of the employees. I would really like to see that information on the Clinton Foundation.

    Note the outflow of the sex harassment issues at the media (New York ) and congress (Washington DC). What is the solutions Dems and liberals are calling for? We need to institute training classes! Who will get the jobs of teaching those classes? Of course liberal graduates of women’s studies, diversity studies, whatever studies degree programs. Note that none of these programs existed before the 1970s. A whole industry created by liberals for liberals. All of these classes are part of the OVERHEAD of a business, i.e. non productive expenditures. Nothing but a leach on society.

    End government liberal full employment policies now!

    • For the Clinton Foundation it is available. IIRC 7% to stated causes, 93% to ‘overheads’. Chelsea was on the Foundation payroll for $1/2 million per year, for example. There is also a full book available documenting the Clinton Foundation pay-to-play MO. Title is Clinton Cash. Available at Amazon.

  12. One of my biggest complaints (among many) about GWBush is that he let this go on for his entire 8 years, and never lifted a finger to stop it. And of course Obama cheerled this the entire time. Well, this is Why We Got Trump.

  13. The US has 3 branches of Government. (Actually 4. The voter.) The Judicial Branch has been stacked for years with those who rule by “feelings” rather than the written words.
    The Executive Branch nominates judges to Federal judicial branch.
    We’ve had a few decades of federal judges who can’t read or “feel” that what they read must be wrong.
    Another reason why “sue and settle” worked.

    • The US constitution defines the people as the pre-eminent rulers of their government.
      Members of the US congress are elected by the people, thus their proxies.
      A free press was historically regarded as the 4th branch.
      Read the Federalist papers.

      • Today’s free press is mostly hostile to a Constitutionally inclined POTUS. Today’s “free press” cheered repeatedly when Obama violated Separation of Powers principles on numerous occasions to create new law whole-cloth by executive fiat.

        Free press is vital I agree. But that is Not what we have. Today our Press is a subservient Press to the Progressive agenda. Journalism is gone as concept. Yes, now they hold the Executive to account, but where were they for 8 years of Obama?
        Don’t believe me? Watch Morning Joe on NBC.
        http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe

    • Article IV of The Constitution talks about the powers of the States. I suggest that the various States of the Union are the fourth branch, and would be the natural mechanism for controlling the other three. The Constitution is the contract by which the States have banded together, designating specific powers to the three branches of the federal government. Which is why the 17th Amendment should be overturned, to return the Senators to direct control of the Governors of the various States.

      • Which is why the 17th Amendment should be overturned, to return the Senators to direct control of the Governors of the various States.

        The only disagreement I have would be to return it to the Governments of the States. Appointed by the governor, elected by the legislature, the counties (sort of a state’s “electoral college”), whatever they choose, leave it up to them.

    • In the 1990’s the congress changed the language in the oath of allegiance that judges and legislators were sworn in under. The change in oath, while appearing to be simple to most, actually uncoupled the judiciary from following the constitution.

  14. From the article: ““Sue and settle” is a gravy train never envisioned by Congress. It cannot withstand public scrutiny.”

    This is extremely irritating! I hate it when the radical Left finds a new way to steal taxpayer money.

  15. Here’s a shadowy group. They are running a multimillion-dollar TV and Radio ad campaign right now against 3 GOP US Congressmen/women.

    Western Values Project
    http://westernvaluesproject.org/about-us/

    Here in Tucson, Arizona, Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally’s district is viewed as a vulnerable pick-off seat by Democrats in the 2018 elections. So now someone(s) with deep pockets is/are funneling millions of dollars to this group to front the ads, couched as an environmental issue. The method of their attack right now is a focus on President Trump’s move to undo some of Obama’s BLM land grab to Monuments status. The ads are highly deceptive and grossly misleading. But that attack angle is just a means or method to another end, which to turn public opinion against these 3 Republicans in vulnerable districts. Essentially they are already running attacks ads for the 2018 election without triggering FEC rules.

    I would like to find out more on this Western Values Project group. I can’t even find whether they are registered as 501c(3) or a 501c(4) non-profit. If I were guessing, they are registered as 501c(4) so that donations are tax-deductible for whoever their Democrat donors are. Their website, other than a few figure heads placeholders, offers nothing not even a mailing address or location of its offices. Just an email address.

    Does anyone know how I can find out more about Western Values Project?
    (without emailing them, as I don’t trust anything they say.)

  16. This same modus operandi goes on in many states. It also goes on above and beyond the environmental arena. In my state it was going on with mental health in the 1980s. There is another problem seldom mentioned and has become more rampant with most Congressional budgets being done by Continuing Resolution (CR) and not by Regular Order as set forth in the Constitution. Many environmental groups get “grant and aid” directly out of the federal budget. No really competition except which groups lobbyists is the most skilled. Some of it is passed through federal agency, supposedly through their granting process. But no federal agency dare say no or their budget could be put on the block.

  17. One question has to be “where are the judges in all this?”. They are often extremely familiar with all the scams that come before them, but because they are paid by the state they are not supposed to ever be directly benefiting from it financially, as the lawyers do. I understand that in the US some judges are elected as well as being political appointees, but surely most of them are still honest and would like to see the system working efficiently if that can be managed?

  18. Thank you Mr. Walcher. Great summary of bad ethics and outright illegality.

    Now all we need is a directive from the President to all agencies that they must defend against all lawsuits by corporations or non-profit entities about regulations. Or they can negotiate a settlement with no stays of regulations or penalties at the earliest convenience of the applicable court. If the agency loses in court after all appeals are exhausted it will refund any penalties and pay all court costs of the suitors at the ratio of their total overhead/annual budget or their earnings:sale ratio.

    Maybe a lawyer can write better mumbo jumbo.

    • This only sounds good in theory. The main reason SOME agencies often settle is because the cost of fighting quickly runs in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Depending on the court, the odds of getting a reasonable judge may not be good (see 9th Circuit). In some cases, a judgement could end up applying to more than that specific case, so a new “rule” is in place for all national forests in the West, not just a particular national forest (random example). This becomes more of a danger as one goes up the appeal chain. It is not as simple as it should be.

      There is a law that is supposed to help deter these frivolous lawsuits by forcing a group to pay the government’s costs if they lose, but many (most?) judges do not enforce it. I believe some of the large environmental groups sue through chapters to avoid being held responsible as well.

      Some agencies are definitely corrupt or at the very least, shady. Others are doing the best they can with a crappy hand. There are certain “non-profits” who have a reputation (with at least one agency) as existing to sue the government (and force a settlement) and act as propagandists.

      A lawyer from one of those non-profits once gave a talk for a class I took. He admitted that their main tactic was sue and settle, and touted it as some sort of wonderful thing. I spoke about this with someone who works for a government agency, and he confirmed that this group is one of the worst offenders for his agency and others.

      Yet another reason I switched to calling myself a conservationist!

      • A simpler method is for Congress to do its job. Agency regulations should have a sunset clause say 12 months after which they cease to have force and cannot in any guise be reinstituted by the agency. Congress will be required to explicitly debate and pass a resolution for each regulation. This will stop the runaway generation of regulations and prevent lawyers and judges legislating in place of Congress.

  19. The other dirty secret about “sue and settle” is that many of these cases are filed with “cut-and-paste” language that is quite similar from case to case. However, when agreeing to pay legal fees to the plaintiffs, those fees are paid as though every bit of the document and its preparation were original work, and the hourly rates of the staff involved are highly inflated.

    Most of the so-called legal fees end up in the coffers of the organization filing the suit, and is not paid to the attorneys, who are either on-staff, or working at very discounted rates.

  20. These changes were long overdue. Unfortunately, when Trump is gone, which is likely to be in another 3 years, the EPA will go back to doing what it was doing while Congress looks the other way. In order for these changes to be made permanent, Congress must act. To begin with, they could amend the CAA to remove CO2 as a pollutant. It is insane that this rule was determined in court and not by Congress.

    • If Trump is gone in three years, there are two likely results: either Civil War 2, or Trump’s replacement by a President who really will drain the swamp.

      There’s no going back to the Obama era, no matter how much the Republican establishment may want to.

    • Well, according to the impression given by the media and polls before the election, her royal pain and her consort are occupying the White House right now. (Another model gone wrong.)
      Now they’re working overtime to give the impression that Trump won’t last out his term, let alone be reelected.
      (And they’re pulling out every dirty trick in the book. They are desperate.)

  21. It’s not just EPA. The Bureau of Land Management does the same, with so-called environmental groups colluding with BLM to “settle” cases before they go to trial. The goal is to stop all extractive uses of public lands and get whatever citizens might be using that land off of it. The Bundy’s and those Malheur refuge cowboys are right, unfortunately though not as articulate as the high-priced lawyers sent to to remove them.

    • “refuge cowboys are right”

      What are they ‘right’ about again?

      It is so rare to hear a protester articulate a substantive reason for the protest.

  22. When President Eisenhower was leaving office, he warned the nation about what he perceived as the “military-industrial complex.” But as we see now, the real threat seems to be the “environmental lawyer-Government environmental bureaucrat complex”, both sides of which are enabled by a Congress that is full of lawyers.

  23. RINO

    I am just wondering, as a liberal Republican, who gets to decide who is a Republican?

    One thing that my conservative Republican grandparents and my more liberal Republican parents could agree on was the environment. Snow in Ohio should not be grey. Rivers in Ohio should not catch fire.

    Children should be able to swim in the rivers of Ohio and Lake Erie. That is what my father did but it was too polluted for me but not my children.

    Anyone want to go back to the air and water quality of the 60s? How about the draft? Do you want to bring that back? Segregation?

    Change that makes our country better for our children becomes a conservative idea. We are relabeled as ‘neocons’.

    Bush made changes to coal fired power plant regulations by going to congress based on what modern technology.

    Many here are against things like ‘mandates’ and ‘subsidies’ as tools to affect change based on the democratic process. While I think wind, solar, and BEV will not be around in 30 years; I am not against trying.

    There is a huge difference between not as conservative as you might like Bush and King Obama decreeing regulations against the will of congress.

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