House Passes Gosar, Bridenstine, Yoho Amendment Limiting Frivolous and Costly Environmental Lawsuits
WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 04, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after joining House colleagues Representatives Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) in passing an amendment that will limit frivolous lawsuits and exorbitant payouts to lawyers that challenge energy projects which have already gone through the environmental process and been issued permits and subsequently attached the amendment to H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act:
“Extremist environmental groups have been abusing our legal system and intentionally pushing frivolous lawsuits to shut down important energy production on federal land. Furthermore, these lawsuits engineered by special-interest Washington D.C. lawyers are billing the federal government at exorbitant rates which cost American taxpayers as much as $750 an hour. These bogus environmental organizations are directly threatening the livelihoods of countless American communities that heavily rely on energy production to sustain their livelihoods.
“I’m pleased to see my House colleagues support this commonsense amendment that supports a true all-of-the-above energy strategy and encourages American energy development. A government, accountable to the people, should always seek to ensure proper stewardship of the public’s dollar, time and resources. This is a responsible solution that increases transparency and cracks down on overpaid Washington D.C. attorneys and extremist special-interest groups holding-up American energy production.”
The text of the Gosar/Bridenstine/Yoho amendment can be found HERE.
Specifically, the amendment requires that U.S. district courts hear and determine covered civil action challenges as “expeditiously as practicable” and that all covered civil actions be filed within 90 days of the final federal agency action. The amendment prevents payouts under the Equal Access to Justice Act to cover attorneys’ fees, expenses, or other court costs incurred by parties that challenge covered energy projects on federal lands. Covered energy projects under the amendment include oil, natural gas, coal, geothermal, hydropower, any other source of energy produced on federal lands. A new report issued just over a month ago by the National Association of Environmental Professionals found that it took federal agencies an average of 1,709 days to complete the permitting review process. Once energy producers get through this lengthy regulatory process which allows significant comment from all perspectives, quite often these projects are then challenged by special-interest groups in court where they can linger for several more years.
Just this week, the House unanimously passed bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Congressman Gosar; H.R. 3279, the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act. This bipartisan bill tracks how much money is paid out under the Equal Access to Justice Act, EAJA, and from which agencies. This legislation was necessary because while Congress used to track such information, these practices were stopped in 1995. Click HERE to learn more.
The Gosar/Bridenstine/Yoho amendment is endorsed by: Americans for Limited Government; American Petroleum Institute; Anglers United, Inc.; Arizona Builders Alliance; Arizona Liberty; Arizona Pork Council; Arizona Small Business Association; AZ BASS Nation; The Bass Federation; Concerned Citizens for America; Gavel Resources; Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association; Shake, Rattle & Troll Radio; Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative; the Rural Public Lands County Council; Tucson Electric Power; Yuma County Chamber of Commerce; Gila County Supervisor Marilyn Brewer; Moffat County Supervisor John Kincaid; Pinal County Supervisor Stephen Miller; Former Chairman of the House Resources Committee Richard Pombo; Taxpayers Wayne Cameron, Rory Van Poucke and Navopache Electric Cooperative.