The Norman Transcript

July 27, 2013

‘Sue to settle’ is unfair


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Something is drastically wrong when states decide they must sue the federal government for information. That problem was illustrated last week when 12 attorneys general sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for documents they say will reveal collaboration between the agency and environmental groups, at the expense of states.

The states' lawsuit claims the EPA invites legal action against itself from environmental groups, prompting court settlements that impose tougher restrictions. The attorneys general say they don't have a chance to defend their state's interests - or those of businesses and consumers - in this maneuver known as "sue and settle."

“It’s a regulation-through-litigation type of initiative,” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt told The Associated Press. “And we are not even a party to that litigation. That’s a troublesome thing.”

The states last August asked EPA for records of communications with environmental groups under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The agency negotiated the release of a more limited collection of documents until, Pruitt said, it rejected the request last spring.

We find it abhorrent that a federal agency needs a lawsuit thrown in its face before relinquishing documents that should available to the public.

— The Muskogee, Okla., Phoenix