Editor’s Comment: Soon after I started Speak Up America, it wasn’t long before I realized just how corrupt and evil the Clinton’s were. Until I received this article, I never would have believed there were American’s who could cheat the taxpayers the way the Clinton DOJ and EPA did in cahoots with the greens.
Department of Justice and EPA Hold Meeting To Aid Greens In Lawsuits Against America.
By Nancie Marzulla & David Almasi
November 23, 1993, Radical environmentalists would have you think of them as the underdog daring to challenge the large and powerful government to save the planet. It is the classic David versus Goliath tale. The environmental David, however, is every bit as large and fearsome as the government Goliath they claim to be up against. Furthermore, these giants seem to be rather chummy, not bitter enemies locked in a battle to the death. Indeed, under the current Clinton/Gore Administration the real question is who will protect us from the both of them.
On October 14th, the Department of Justice and EPA hosted a meeting with environmental groups. The topic of the meeting was how these groups could help the government by suing it and how the government could help them do it. One environmentalist noted hearing these overtures before, but “not at this level of interest.” Inside EPA newsletter reported administration sources were interested in using citizen suits to enforce regulation and implement their agenda. Citizen suit provisions are included in every major environmental statute, including the Endangered Species Act, CERCLA (Super fund), and the Clean Water and Clear Air Acts. They enable private citizens to sue to enforce the requirements of federal law against both private industry and the government.
Suing the establishment is even easier when the government plays patsy. The Clinton Administration, like the Carter Administration before it, is being very supportive of those bringing environmental citizens lawsuits against it. Clinton has put many of tile environmental activists behind the desks of government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior and Justice, to name but a few.
But even though they hold the reins of power, environmentalist lawsuits still play an integral part in the Clinton/Gore environmental game plan. Being sued gives the appearance of the government’s hand being forced rather than having to make a volatile policy decision subject to scrutiny by Congress. More troublesome, but more typically, these lawsuits are often settled out of court by the entering of a consent decree, requiring the government to do certain things. As formal settlement of a lawsuit, the decree is approved and signed by the judge prior to entry. Once entered, it carries with it the full force of law. And not only is it fully binding upon both parties and enforceable through sanctions and fines, but third parties can find their rights affected by a decree which they did not even participate in constructing.
Armed with a consent decree, an agency can also march up to Congress and demand a budget increase in order to comply with the decree and the increased responsibilities to go with it. In short, government bureaucrats can increase their authority and their budget, short-cutting the political process through the strategic filing of lawsuits by their former colleagues in the environmental movement.
Using the lawsuit as a weapon, environmental groups have been quite successful in bending government policy to their wishes. And they have been paid quite handsomely for their efforts. If their complaint is proven valid the government has to foot the bill as well as make the changes demanded in the lawsuit. American taxpayers must pay the costs of the litigation because a provision is buried within every regulatory bill concerning citizen’s suits requiring that attorney’s fees and costs be paid at market rates to the prevailing party. Thus bills for payment in the range of $250 per hour are tendered to the government.
People envision environmental organizations as a few hippies in tie-dyed T-shirts and frayed jeans cranking out petitions on a mimeograph machine in some cramped office. That is what they would like you to think. Environmentalism, in reality, is big business. Groups often own their own buildings and their leaders wear tailored suits and rake in salaries on par with captains of industry. But they still insist on representing themselves as the “little guy”. . . with their own legal staff.
Like so many other environmental groups, the Sierra Club and others like it are too rich to be considered the little guy anymore. Their budget was over $40 million in 1991 – up $3 million more from the year before! But this budget is minuscule compared to the monstrous budget of tire Nature Conservancy which garnered $274.1 millions in 1992. Greenpeace, which sends students door to door begging donations, amassed a budget of over $65 million the previous year. Other wealthy environmental groups include the National Wildlife Federation ($89.7 million) World Wildlife Fund ($56.9 million) and Audubon Society ($43 million).
So not only is the current administration encouraging environmental groups to bring more lawsuits against it, but it is relaxing its defense strategy at the same time. In the usual course of litigation, once a lawsuit against the government is filed, the government examines all the bases upon which the lawsuit can be dismissed, such as standing and other jurisdictional defenses. Under the leadership at the Department of Justice, the chief litigating arm of the government in defending against these environmental lawsuits, the word is out that procedural defenses will not be raised in these lawsuits. The government now wants quickly to get to the merits of the claims raised in these “friendly” lawsuits.
If there ever was a true David in this land of Green Goliaths, it is the individual property owner who is so often singled out to pay the costs of complying with the ever increasing burden of environmental regulations. The aim of the property owner had better be pretty good however since it looks like his Goliath is only going to get bigger. §
Reprinted from the December 15, 1993 issue of Speak Up America Nancie Marzulla is President and Chief Legal Council of Defenders of Property Rights. David Almasi is Director of Media Relations for Defenders of Property Rights.
Scheme In Action
As an example of the dramatic and far reaching effects citizen’s suits can have on environmental policy, one needs look only as far back as a year ago. The largest addition of species to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), ever, was made through the settlement of the lawsuit Fund for Animals v Lujan.
On December 15, 1992, the government entered into a consent decree with The Fund for Animals and other environmental and animal rights groups that will require the addition of 382 species of plants and animals to the list of those already receiving government protection by September, 1996. Previously, the 740 species list increased at a rate of only 40 listings per year. This settlement requires an over 50% increase in the amount of plants and animals protected by government regulation. Among those species now protected by the ESA are the Jemez mountain salamander, Montana arctic grayling, and Oregon semaphore grass. The settlement also requires the government to put over 900 species on the `fast track’ toward future protective consideration .
In an article about the settlement, the Los Angeles Times reported the Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the EPA, was already sympathetic to the listing of these species. The reason they had not been listed sooner was a lack of money. Under the consent decree, the government is compelled to protect these species, and the government will have to come up with the money. For property owners, the settlement means that government approval will be required before engaging in any activities which threaten to disturb or destroy any habitat of the protected species.
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