An article from E&E News, posted for (polite?) discussion. One point to discuss: Should the FWS and other agencies be required to open proposed settlement agreements for public comment? I say yes, if only for transparency. What is legally required?
Natural Resources panel to explore ‘sue and settle’ listings
Published: Monday, July 29, 2013
The Natural Resources Committee will meet to discuss how “sue and settle” practices influence endangered species listings.
Republicans have charged that sue-and-settle cases — where an environmental group sues to force an agency to take action — permeate several areas of environmental law. They contend that the groups collude with agencies such as U.S. EPA to craft settlements sympathetic to environmentalists’ concerns.
They also say conservationists have taken advantage of the practice on endangered species protection, filing lawsuits that require the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider hundreds of species for endangered or threatened status.
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee marked up H.R. 1493, which would force agencies to open proposed settlement agreements for public comment.
Democrats and environmentalists steadfastly oppose the legislation and Republican efforts. They claim that the lawsuits, which are permitted by the law, are a way for citizens to force agencies to carry out their mandated responsibilities. They also note that the rulemaking process is open to the public.
The Judiciary panel nevertheless sent the legislation to the House floor (E&E Daily, July 25).
Schedule: The hearing is Thursday, Aug. 1, at 10 a.m. in 1324 Longworth.