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For Immediate Release, August 31, 2011

Contact: John Buse, (323) 533-4416

Study: Industry Sues EPA More Often Than Environmental Groups

TUCSON, Ariz.— A study released today by the U.S. Government Accountability Office finds that businesses and trade groups, not environmentalists, file the most lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency.

Examining more than 2,000 cases filed against the EPA from 1995 to 2010, the GAO found that 48 percent were filed by corporate interests (25 percent by trade associations, 23 percent by private companies), while environmental groups filed only 30 percent (16 percent by local groups, 14 percent by national groups). The others included states, municipalities, regional governments and territories (12 percent), individuals (7 percent), unions, universities and tribes (2 percent) and other (1 percent).

“Conservative politicians and industry lobbyists have been attacking environmental groups for suing the government too much, but this study clearly shows that business interests actually file the most lawsuits against EPA,” said John Buse, legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The right wing’s deafening silence when it comes to polluters’ lawsuits betrays its true agenda. It’s not really against litigation; it’s just against litigation to protect our air, water and environment.”

Industry suits were strongly correlated with whether the presidential administration was Republican or Democratic, with a large number of suits against the Clinton administration, many fewer against Bush and a large increase with the onset of the Obama administration. Environmental suits were weakly correlated with presidential administrations.

Federal law allows plaintiffs to collect attorney fees when they prevail in certain cases against the government. Though environmental groups filed fewer suits against the EPA, they received more fees than any of the other groups in today’s study.

“We sue the EPA when it doesn’t comply with laws to protect clean air, clean water and human health. And more often than not, federal judges have agreed with us that EPA wasn’t doing its job,” said Buse. “President Obama and the EPA should follow the law and ignore the false rhetoric of polluters. When the administration follows the law, everyone wins.”

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