Rock Products

NOV 2017

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Page 47 of 59

46 • ROCK products • November 2017 ENVIRONMENT In fulfilling his promise to end the practice of regulation through litigation, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued an agency-wide directive designed to end "sue and settle" prac- tices within the agency, providing an unprecedented level of public participation and transparency in EPA consent decrees and settlement agreements. "The days of regulation through litigation are over," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agree- ments to resolve lawsuits filed against the agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regu- latory process set forth by Congress. Additionally, gone are the days of routinely paying tens of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees to these groups with which we swiftly settle." Over the years, outside the regulatory process, special interest groups have used lawsuits that seek to force federal agencies – especially EPA – to issue regulations that advance their interests and priorities, on their specified timeframe. EPA gets sued by an outside party that is asking the court to compel the agency to take certain steps, either through change in a statutory duty or enforcing timelines set by the law, and then EPA will acquiesce through a consent decree or settlement agreement, affecting the agency's obligations under the statute. More specifically, EPA either commits to taking an action that is not a mandatory requirement under its governing statutes or agrees to a specific, unreasonable timeline to act. Oftentimes, these agreements are reached with little to no public input or transparency. That is regulation through litigation, and it is inconsistent with the authority that Congress has granted and the responsibility to operate in an open and fair manner. "Sue and settle" cases establish agency obligations without participation by states and/or the regulated community; foreclose meaningful public participation in rulemaking; effectively force the agency to reach certain regulatory out- comes; and cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars. With this directive, Administrator Pruitt is ensuring the agency increases transparency, improves public engage- ment, and provides accountability to the American public when considering a settlement agreement or consent decree by: • Publishing any notices of intent to sue the agency within 15 days of receiving the notice. •  Publishing any complaints or petitions for review in regard to an environmental law, regulation, or rule in which the agency is a defendant or respondent in federal court within 15 days of receipt. •  Reaching out to and including any states and/or regu- lated entities affected by potential settlements or consent decrees. •  Publishing a list of consent decrees and settlement agree- ments that govern agency actions within 30 days, along with any attorney fees paid, and update it within 15 days of any new consent decree or settlement agreement. •  Expressly forbidding the practice of entering into any consent decrees that exceed the authority of the courts. •  Excluding attorney's fees and litigation costs when set- tling with those suing the agency. •  Providing sufficient time to issue or modify proposed and final rules, take and consider public comment. •  Publishing any proposed or modified consent decrees and settlements for 30-day public comment, and providing a public hearing on a proposed consent decree or settlement when requested. EPA Ends Sue and Settle Practices As intense weather events batter U.S. coastal cities and offshore islands, a new study from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute warns that the threat of climate change extends much farther inland, with potentially devastating impacts on transportation and infra- structure systems across the Midwest. "Whether we like it or not, the climate of the Midwest is already changing," said study author Mary Craighead. "It is vital for policymakers to understand the potential costs and consequences of these changes, and to be proactive in taking actions that are necessary to protect communities and the infra- structure on which our entire regional economy depends." Specifically, Craighead cites growth in the region's average air temperature by 4.5 degrees since the 1980s, grow- ing electricity outages, a 27 percent increase in the number of "very heavy precipitation days" since the 1950s, a steady reduction in ice coverage on the Great Lakes, and more frequent freeze- thaw cycles to highlight how various infrastructure systems could ultimately be impacted. "Rising temperatures and the likelihood of more storms and flooding reduce the lifespan of roads and bridges, could cause railways to buckle, and threaten above-ground energy facilities and transmission lines," Craighead added. "Without critical maintenance and modernization of these systems, every- thing from freight and commuter routes to our region's overall economic value as a net distributor of electricity could be jeopardized." New Study Warns of Changing Climate's Impact on Midwest Infrastructure

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