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Oct 26, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Kevin Cramer supported legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, which would eliminate so-called ‘Sue and Settle’ rulemaking – a frequent practice used during the Obama Administration in coordination with environmentalist groups to advance their regulatory agenda.

H.R. 469, the Sunshine for Regulations and Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2017, increases accountability and transparency in sue-and-settle cases by requiring any proposed settlement agreements requiring a federal agency to undertake new rulemaking be published for 60 days for public comment prior to filing with the court, requiring agencies to publish intent-to-sue notices within 15 days after receipt, and instructing courts to assure adequate time for compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act and other requirements in the rulemaking process. The bill also improves the ability of affected parties to intervene in settlement negotiations prior to the entry of a settlement agreement requiring new rules.

“I’ve been a longtime supporter of this legislation to shine a light on and stop extreme environmental groups from suing the federal government only to get behind closed doors and reach a friendly settlement agreement,” said Cramer. As I said last week, when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a directive reflecting this bill, the Obama Administration was a breeding ground for this activity. Not only did these settlements circumvent the transparent rulemaking process and prioritize agency obligations to environmentalists’ liking, but it enriched the environmental group lawyers in the process at the expense of the taxpayer. It’s important to put these reforms into law and I hope the Senate will take this up.

The House also passed the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act (H.R. 732) which prevents government officials from entering into or enforcing any settlement agreement requiring a party to the settlement to donate to a non-victim third party. The Justice Department guided over a billion dollars outside of the Congressional appropriations process to third-party groups in just the last 30 months of the Obama Administration.

“If harm done cannot be directly paid out to identifiable victims, payments shouldn’t be doled out to non-victims and favorite third-party groups. If anything, the assessed penalty should then go to the public.”