On March 18, 2022, EPA Administrator Reagan issued “Consent Decrees and Settlement Agreements to Resolve Environmental Claims Against the Agency,” a memorandum revoking a 2017 memorandum and accompanying directive issued during the Trump administration.
Claims of Improper EPA Policymaking through Settlements
The Trump-era documents were a response to concerns that EPA made improper policy decisions in the context of settling cases brought by environmental organizations.
Inaccuracies in Prior Documents
According to Reagan, the prior memorandum and directive “contained inaccurate characterizations of the agency’s settlement practices as well as of EPA attorneys and staff who have for decades appropriately negotiated settlements to resolve litigation.” They also “established procedural requirements inappropriately favoring certain stakeholders in settling environmental claims brought against the EPA.” Finally, Reagan claimed the prior memorandum and directive “gave little weight to the well-understood value of settlements in appropriate cases.”
Promised Ongoing Transparency in Settlements
Despite revoking the prior documents, Reagan pledged EPA will continue to strive for transparency in its settlement practices by: 1) publishing Notices of Intent to Sue the Agency, petitions for review, complaints, and proposed settlements on EPA’s website; 2) maintaining a public email listserv to provide notice when these documents are posted; and 3) making proposed settlements available for public review and comment for at least 30 days unless a different period of time is required by law.
To see the Memorandum https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2022-03/ogc-22-000-2698_0.pdf