By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory affairs & assistant general counsel, ARTBA

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has ended the agency’s longstanding practice of “sue and settle” agreements with anti-growth organizations.

The term refers to when these groups file litigation against a federal agency, then quickly reach a settlement where new, often cumbersome, regulations are initiated on an expedited timeframe. Often, the businesses and industries regulated the new rules are not given a voice in crafting the settlement. Making matters worse, in some cases these litigants are able to have the government pay their legal fees.

In an Oct. 16 memorandum, Pruitt states that “sue and settle” arrangements “excluded intervenors, interested stakeholders, and affected  states” from settlement discussions directly impacting them. He asserts that “[t]he days of this regulation through litigation, or ‘sue and settle’ are terminated.”

ARTBA has repeatedly supported legislation in Congress to end “sue and settle” practices. In a Feb. 27 letter, ARTBA CEO Pete Ruane thanked Pruitt for his stance on the issue.