Environmental lawyers are furious as their access to easy money runs dry.
December 13, 2017
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 are 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 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.
These organizations vehemently object to the phrase “sue and settle,” saying 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.........“Sue and settle” is a gravy train never envisioned by Congress, and it cannot withstand public scrutiny. These attorneys ought to recall the ethics of Paper Chase star John Housman, who once touted financial managers who “make money the old fashioned way — they earn it.”...........To Read More.....