William Yeatman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on June 28th, 2012 regarding this sue–and-settle phenomenon –
“Beginning in 2009, a group of nonprofit environmental advocacy organizations—Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, Environmental Defense Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, Montana Environmental Information Center, Grand Canyon Trust, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Our Children’s Earth Foundation, Plains Justice, and Powder River Basin Resource Council—filed lawsuits against EPA alleging that the agency had failed to perform its non-discretionary duty to act on state submissions for regional haze. Rather than litigate these cases, EPA simply chose to settle. In five consent decrees negotiated with environmental groups—and, importantly, without notice to the states that would be affected—EPA agreed to commit itself to various deadlines to act on all states’ visibility improvement plans.
“Like a one-two, left-right boxing combination, EPA first objects to the process used by the states to comply with Regional Haze, and then the Agency claimed it has no choice but to impose its preferred controls in order to comply with the consent decree. Thus, EPA has trumped the states rightful authority on Regional Haze.”
Yeatman added –
“The costs of EPA’s imposed Regional Haze plans are significant; the benefits, however, are suspect. According to peer-reviewed research, the visibility improvement achieved by EPA’s Regional Haze plans is imperceptible to the average person.”