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A recent Chamber of Commerce report by William Yeatman concluded that the sue-and-settle practice is responsible for many of the EPA’s “most controversial, economically significant regulations that have plagued the business community for the past few years.” Leaving no industry spared, these regulations affect refineries, power plants, cement plants, mining operations, and chemical manufacturers.
One of the worst cases cited by Yeatman involves “Regional Haze” requirements under the Clean Air Act. Because Regional Haze issues were mostly aesthetic, unrelated to people’s health, Congress left regulation mainly to the states, with the EPA serving as a backup in case a state didn’t come up with a plan. Yet under the version of the Regional Haze requirements worked out in a sue-and-settle agreement, Yeatman concluded, “no state is immune from having its rightful Regional Haze authority trampled by EPA at profound costs for virtually nonexistent benefits.”