A report by the General Accounting Office found that between 2006 and 2010, taxpayers shelled out $14.2 million dollars to plaintiffs for environmental litigation.
Naturally, the EPA is bewildered as to why anyone would suggest collusion between the agency and the environmental groups.
"We have no input or control over what parties sue us or what issues they focus on," said EPA press secretary Alisha Johnson.
If that's the case, certainly the EPA wouldn't mind if the public got a look at any correspondence between, say, the EPA and Earthjustice? That should be a part of the public record.
However, it's evidently easier to use the courts to get the EPA to force utilities to stop burning coal than get a copy of an email. Freedom of Information requests are generally stonewalled or met with obfuscation.
This week, attorneys general from 12 states filed suit in federal court to try to force the EPA to turn over documents relating to the "sue and settle" strategy. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is taking the lead.
"The EPA is picking winners and losers, exhibiting favoritism, at the expense of due process and transparency," Pruitt said. "They are manipulating our legal system to achieve what they cannot through our representative democracy."
When the EPA is sued by a zealous environmental group, the agency responds with amazing precision, sometimes entering a consent decree the same day the lawsuit is filed.
If the EPA would only respond to the FOIA requests as promptly, we could find out the extent to which this unholy arrangement is bypassing the democratic process.
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.