These are very wild times here in Washington, D.C. We have four big scandals going on that could threaten the entire Obama Administration. The biggest appears to be the IRS scandal. Next, is the Benghazi cover-up. The spying on the Associated Press and Fox News by the Department of Justice is a direct attack on the 1st Amendment. Lately, there has been a report that John Brennan, while he was at the White House (now director of the CIA), ordered intelligence sources to dig up “dirt” on any news reporter who says anything unflattering about President Obama. It appears to be an administration drunk on power and going wild–damn the Constitution.
Now comes the Environmental Protection Agency. When an agency makes a rule change it is supposed to first announce the proposed rule change in the Federal Register. They must allow at least 60 days for the public to make comments, for or against, the change. A rule change is an updated interpretation of a present law. If the comments are overwhelmingly against the change, Congress and the agency must consider retreating or altering the change. The current administration at the EPA has gone buck wild on rule changes without going through the proper process. Why and how are they doing this?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce assembled a task force to find out what exactly was going on with this madness. What they uncovered was a conspiracy to avoid transparency obligations when performing rule changes. The EPA and a pack of extreme environmental organizations developed a “scam.” One of the organizations would file a lawsuit against the EPA demanding rule changes in current laws. Then the EPA would quickly settle the suit without a legal battle. They would comply with all the demands.
Upon request, the court would enter the settlement as a consent decree and make it law. They started doing this in 2009 and have repeated the “scam” more than 100 times. That is more than 100 lawsuits the EPA has voluntarily lost. This practice has been given the name “sue and settle.” It has cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. What is worse is that the EPA also volunteers to pay the legal fees and court costs of the suing environmental group. That’s your money. There was one lawsuit that was filed at 9 a.m. and settled by 11 a.m. the very same day!
The Chamber has published a report (www.sueandsettle.com ) on the above entitled “Sue and Settle–Regulating Behind Closed Doors.” They define it: “The practice of agencies entering into voluntary agreements with private parties to issue specific rulemaking requirements also severely undercuts agency compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act. The Administrative Procedure Act is designed to promote transparency and public participation in the rulemaking process. Because the substance of a sue and settle agreement has been fully negotiated between the agency and the advocacy group before the public has any opportunity to see it … the outcome of the rulemaking is set.
“Sue and settle allows EPA to avoid the normal protections built into the rulemaking process, such as review by OMB (Office of Management and Budget), reviews under several executive orders, and reviews by the public and the regulated community … With no public input, EPA binds itself to the demands of a private entity with special interests that may be adverse to the public interest, especially in the areas of project development and job creation. Sue and settle activities deny the public its most basic of all rights in the regulatory process: the right to weigh in on a proposed regulatory decision before agency action occurs.” This is tyranny!
The environmental groups that led the way in this process are Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund. These “lawsuits” have halted business expansion, investment, research and many jobs. They, along with the EPA, have bludgeoned many corporations and workers by way of sue and settle. The biggest case involves the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Act Rules, which will cost corporations and the states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and the federal government up to $18 billion in compliance demands. Next is the Utility MACT Rule, which will cost up to $9.6 billion and also will force up to 21 coal-fired utility plants to close and raise electricity rates on millions of consumers and industries.
Congress is not pleased. The Bill, H.R. 1493, is working its way through the House of Representatives.
Hopefully, it will pass and stop the madness. How can a government that is supposed to be purely democratic act in such an abusive way? There is an atmosphere of tyranny when you put this practice in with the other four scandals. How many more scandals will pop up under this atmosphere of “Damn the Constitution”?
Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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