Democracy Forward (DF), which calls itself “a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas,” has sued the federal government on behalf of the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), seeking to overturn the Trump Administration’s ban on the use of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in settlements of environmental enforcement cases. A Complaint, styled Conservation Law Foundation v. Barr, was filed October 8 in the federal district court in Boston, Massachusetts.

Clark Memorandum Allegedly Violates the Administrative Procedure Act
In a joint press release issued the same day, DF and CLF said a memorandum from Deputy Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Jeffrey Bossert Clark (the Clark Memorandum) “unlawfully took an axe to the use of SEPs in order to curb enforcement of federal statutes.”  (See Mitigation Project Settlements May Thrive with the Death of SEPs for a prior discussion of the Clark Memorandum.) DF and CLF claim the Clark Memorandum’s “arbitrary and unreasoned legal interpretation violates the Administrative Procedure Act and should be set aside.”

SEPs Benefit Local Communities
According to the press release, at least nine settlements since 2005 included SEPs that have benefited the Boston area and hundreds of SEPs have been used around the country.  Further, “SEPs are an effective law enforcement tool that allow polluters to help remedy the effects of pollution in the very communities they have harmed.”

To see the press release, which includes a link to the Clark Memorandum and the Complaint