When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) breaks the law by missing deadlines, allowing polluters to violate regulations that protect our health and environment, one way the public holds it accountable is by taking the agency to court. Scott Pruitt and his corporate polluter allies see this as a problem, so Monday, the administrator moved to curtail the agency’s practice of settling lawsuits with outside groups, making it easier to skirt the law.
“Pruitt’s doing nothing more than posturing about a nonexistent problem and political fiction,” John Walke, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Air program said in reaction. “His targeting of legal settlements, especially where EPA has no defense to breaking the law, will just allow violations to persist, along with harms to Americans.”
Over the years, the EPA has settled with numerous entities that have sued—industry groups, states and environmental organizations—but Pruitt’s objection seems to focus solely on those who want to protect the nation’s air, water and land. This new pro-polluter directive will serve only to prolong violations, delay protections and waste government resources fighting lawsuits against which the EPA has no defense.
“The irony is that polluters don’t even have to sue Pruitt to get what they want. They just pick up the phone and ask,” Walke said. “Make no mistake, the unspoken Trump EPA agenda is to allow more corporations to ignore the law and prolong EPA breaking the law; both will lead to dirtier air, dirtier water, and sicker people.”