THE radicalized U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a favorite fallback position when anyone questions one of its controversial decisions:
"Hey, we're just following the court order."
You know the routine.
The Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Greenpeace or some other radical environmental group sues the EPA, claiming the agency is failing to do its job protecting (insert favorite environmental cause here).
The EPA, rather than engaging in what it says would be a protracted legal fight, throws up its hands and enters into a voluntary agreement with the environmental group and, voila! We have a new regulation on the books.
No muss, no fuss and certainly no input from the public or from businesses affected by the new rules.
This "sue and settle" approach has become a staple for the environmental community in recent years.
A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that the "EPA chose at some point not to defend itself in lawsuits brought by special interest advocacy groups at least 60 times between 2009 and 2012. In each case, it agreed to settlements on terms favorable to those groups."
The chamber estimates the settlements resulted in more than 100 new regulations costing billions of dollars.
And here's another interesting little twist to this cozy arrangement:
The federal government maintains a Judgment Fund, from which those who successfully sue the government can be paid for their legal fees.