Businesses and lobbies combined filed about 110 suits against the Environmental Protection Agency in FY 2010. That’s the biggest tally since 1997. Suing for what? Why now?

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This info comes from: Environmental Litigation, Cases against EPA and Associated Costs over Time, by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Aug. 2011

Why sue the EPA?

  • For allegedly not enforcing federal environmental rules and/or laws.
  • For allegedly enforcing or making or planning to make rules that are unfair, illegal, vague, etc.

Sue the EPA when?

  • The president is your ally. If you think he’s you’re ally, sue when the federal Department of Justice will be sympathetic to your argument.  Whatever your argument is.
  • The president is not your ally. If you think the administration is sadly misguided, sue them into doing the right thing. Whatever you think the right thing is.
  • Got new rules.  If some new regulations are written that you find unacceptable, you may sue.
  • EPA missed a deadline. If they miss a deadline that you think they shouldn’t have missed, you may sue.
  • New data for old laws arrives. Who was thinking about CO2 when the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970? Or even at its latest major revision in 1990? A bunch of states and green orgs sued the EPA to figure out if this “new” thing is legally a pollutant. Supreme Court said it is.

The EPA is now mulling a few new greener regs.  Like, forcing cuts in SO2 & NOx emissions from power plants in 28 states including Georgia. Or considering naming coal ash a toxic substance, and hence subject to regulation.

Litigation has cost the feds some $3.3 million annually, in the period FY 1995 – FY 2010. Totaling at least $43 million.

Besides that, there’s nearly $2 million annually to “prevailing plantiffs”  in the last four years — ie, people who beat the EPA in court. This is generally court fees for when broke people such as community groups sue.




Fine print:
All data in constant 2010 dollars

GAO sends caveats on data. To wit, there’s no single database that lists litigation against EPA. Thus their data represents everything they could find from EPA, DOJ and Treasury. Which they feel is a pretty darn good count, but maybe not perfect.

Data omits things like personnel or Freedom of Information Act suits. Things that don’t have to do with the environment.


One Response to Biz, lobby suits against EPA hit 10-year high last year

  1. DrinkMoreWater says:

    You are not being honest about the report. From the first page:

    “What GAO Found
    No trend was discernible in the number of environmental cases brought against EPA from fiscal year 1995 through fiscal year 2010, as the number of cases filed in federal court varied over time. Justice staff defended EPA on an average of about 155 such cases each year, or a total of about 2,500 cases between fiscal years 1995 and 2010. Most cases were filed under the Clean Air Act (59 percent of cases) and the Clean Water Act (20 percent of cases). According to stakeholders GAO interviewed, a number of factors—particularly a change in presidential administration, new regulations or amendments to laws, or EPA’s not meeting statutorily required deadlines—affect environmental litigation.”


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