Regulatory Update – EPA Agrees to Post "Notices of Intent to Sue"
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently agreed to post on its website all "Notices of Intent to Sue" the agency. Organizations that plan to file citizen suits against EPA must submit a "notice of intent to sue" to the agency at least 60 days prior to filing any lawsuit. After these citizen suits are filed, the private parties and EPA often engage in closed-door negotiations and ultimately enter into consent decrees, which require EPA to undertake the actions demanded by the private parties. This practice is commonly known as "sue and settle." For several years, industry groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have sought transparency in the "sue and settle" process as well as the ability to find out from the government, in a timely manner, when a notice of intent to sue under the citizen suit provisions of environmental statutes is filed.
EPA's decision to post the notices on a weekly basis is a major breakthrough that allows private citizens, for the first time, to have notice of when the agency is being sued and what new regulations might be proposed as a result of the suit. The availability of the notices will give citizens the ability to monitor EPA's secret dealings that lead to consent decrees that put courts and private parties in charge of agency rulemakings and will be critical in ensuring that the federal rulemaking process is governed by principles of openness and transparency.
The "Notices of Intent to Sue" can be found at this link on the EPA website.