Skip to main content
Press Release Published: Nov 14, 2023

Comer, Fallon Probe Secretive Sue-and-Settle Practices Between Special Interests and EPA

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs Chairman Pat Fallon (R-Texas.) are conducting oversight over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s use of secretive “sue-and-settle” practices. In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the lawmakers request documents and communications to examine how the Biden Administration is using sue-and-settle tactics to avoid congressional oversight and implement more burdensome regulations at the bidding of special interests.

“On March 28, 2022, you revoked a policy designed to protect the American taxpayer from the veiled influence special interests exercise on federal policy through sue-and-settle consent decrees and settlement agreements. Because of your action, sue-and-settle abuses appear to have proliferated at the Biden Administration EPA. We request documents and information to examine how the Biden Administration is using sue-and-settle practices to skirt congressional oversight and promulgate burdensome regulations at the bidding of special interests,” the lawmakers wrote.

Sue and settle practices are costly and detrimental to American businesses and consumers. For example, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the EPA is considering new standards for water pollution rules for meat processors. The new rule is part of a consent decree resulting from a lawsuit filed by environmental groups against EPA. New rules on wastewater standards will be detrimental for small businesses, costing each processor upwards of a million dollars.

“Sue-and-settle litigation has plagued the federal regulatory system for decades, allowing special interest groups to dictate federal policy through lawsuits without adherence to normal regulatory processes. […] In the wake of your decision to revoke past policy, it remains unclear how many sue-and-settle consent decrees and settlement agreements have been entered into by your agency as well as their costs. Recent reports indicate that the Biden Administration has already shoveled out ‘over double the amount in taxpayer-backed payouts to liberal climate activists and other groups’ in sue-and-settle litigation than the previous administration did over four years,” the lawmakers continued.

Read the letter to EPA Administrator Regan here.