Congress looking at bill to stop environmentalist extortion suits
A Republican lawmaker wants to take lawsuits out of the arsenal of environmentalists who use the Clean Water Act to stop infrastructure projects, introducing a bill that could have major implications across the country.The groups due process argument is not well founded. They can still bring a suit, but they will bear the cost if they lose. Loser pay is already the rule in some jurisdictions. In many cases, these suits are actually legal extortion to get more money for Big Green's agenda and run up the cost of operations for companies and projects they do not like.
Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina introduced the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuit Act this month in an attempt to stop environmental activists from holding up infrastructure projects by filing lawsuits challenging permits. The bill would require the side that loses to pay for all costs, including the winning side's legal and court fees. It also would remove the Environmental Protection Agency's "veto power" over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetland permitting.
Environmental activists say the bill targets one of the most useful tactics to block controversial projects. Not allowing citizens to sue the government over permits for projects that could affect them limits due process, one activist said.
"Right now, red tape from federal agencies and frivolous lawsuits brought forth by obstructionists delay infrastructure projects and cost millions in taxpayer money," he said. "There has to be a test of reasonableness so these badly needed infrastructure projects are completed in a timely manner with the lowest cost possible."