Phoenix (Monday, July 22, 2013) -- Attorney General Tom Horne has announced that Arizona has joined 11 other states in a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), accusing the agency of not releasing public records that may shed light on why the EPA often chooses to settle – rather than litigate – lawsuits threatened by some environmental interest groups.
“For the past three years, the EPA has allowed its regulations to be largely defined by legal settlements it has agreed to with various environmental groups,” Horne said. “It creates a tyrannical form of government policy-making where special interest groups threaten to sue an agency, and rather than fight the case based on the facts, the agency simply caves in, often to the detriment of consumers.
This is an outrageous abuse of federal power and it must be stopped. The first step is to have the EPA obey federal law and release these public records so we can know what was discussed behind closed doors with these environmental groups.
It also raises the broader issue of the EPA’s proposed regulations that will have a devastating effect on Arizona consumers. While not specifically challenged in this legal action, among the proposals is a visibility standard on emissions from the Navajo Generating Station which cannot be seen by the naked eye. Only the federal government would propose the absurd idea of an invisible visibility standard.
It would be comical except that it may require the closure of the Navajo station, resulting in much higher electricity costs for the Central Arizona Project, which relies on that electric power to pump water into Phoenix and Tucson. Those costs would skyrocket and be passed on to millions of water users – including residential customers – in much of Arizona.”
The lawsuit comes after the states filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act seeking documents related to a strategy called “sue and settle.” The agency employs the tactic as a way to settle lawsuits with environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club, without allowing state involvement.
In some instances, the EPA entered a consent decree the same day a lawsuit was filed by the special interest group, suggesting prior knowledge.
In addition, the consent decrees have been financially rewarding for the environmental groups, which have received a total of nearly $1 million in attorneys’ fees.
The lawsuit has been filed by the state of Oklahoma and in addition to Arizona is joined by Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
A copy of the legal action is attached.