EPA Nominees Go On Record Agreeing to Include Industry in “Sue and Settle” Discussions

Sen. Jim Inhofe at an EPW nomination hearing yesterday questioned the nominees Kenneth Kopocis to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), James Jones to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention of the EPA, and Avi Garbow to be General Counsel for the EPA about the issue of "sue and settle."  All three committed on the record to have an open door policy with industry groups in respect to “sue and settle” discussions. 

EPW Hearing Screen Shot

See Video Here: http://bit.ly/1aHaTeq

Inhofe has led the charge to expose the Administration's pattern of choosing to use “sue and settle” tactics to implement backdoor regulations without the direction of Congress. One recent example includes the involvement of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) in two closed-door settlement agreements in 2011 with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wild Earth Guardians. The agreements led to a commitment to make final listing determinations for more than 250 species by 2016, including the lesser prairie chicken. In May 2012, Inhofe, then-ranking member of the EPW committee, joined Sen. Sessions in sending a letter to FWS requesting documents related to the settlement agreement. Two more letters have since been issued by Inhofe and his colleagues, one in February 2013 and another in June 2013, with no response from FWS to date.


Senator Inhofe: “I have a question for all three of you having to do with the Sue and Settle issue. It’s really been concerning to me. But I was encouraged that the agency recently allowed the National Association of Manufacturers to be at least somewhat involved in a recent lawsuit involving the development of the new Ozone standard. The question would be for all three of you and if you’d like you can go ahead and answer it for the record but be really definitive. Will you commit to engaging with industry groups that will be affected by settlement agreements with Non-Governmental Organizations before those agreements have been entered into? If you’d like to give me a short answer now that’s fine, if not, for the record would be fine.”

Mr. Avi Garbow – If I may Senator with respect to your question, I will commit to have, if confirmed, an open door and to respond to any requests to meet and…

Senator Inhofe: Okay, that’s a good answer. Anybody else agree with that?

Mr. Kenneth Kopocis: I would say that that has been my track record. I’ve always been willing to listen to anybody’s point of view and that would certainly continue if I were confirmed. 

Senator Inhofe: I appreciate that very much.

Mr. James Jones: The same answer applies to myself, thank you sir 

Senator Inhofe: Very good, thank you very much Madam Chairman. 

Should the Senate confirm these nominees, Sen. Inhofe stands ready to hold them accountable to their promise.