Members of the Congressional Western Caucus strongly support efforts by the Department of Interior (DOI) to increase transparency surrounding attorney’s fees. The DOI recently issued a memorandum requiring the creation of a webpage that discloses information relating to attorney’s fees and costs.
Environmental groups often cite the Equal Access to Justice Act in order to receive payments in the form of American taxpayer dollars.
“”For too long, many so-called environmentalist groups have treated the taxpayer’s money like an open piggy bank. Behind the guise of conservation, bogus lawsuits have been filed for years and the taxpayer has been picking up the tab,” said Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah.
“At minimum, the American people have a right to know the amount of attorney’s fees and costs paid out by the federal government and who these payments are being received by,” said Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona.
“For years, our nation’s public lands—particularly in the West—have been held captive by misguided interest groups. Instead of managing these lands, our federal agencies spend an inordinate amount of time and resources defending litigation at the expense of taxpayers,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington.
A 2012 House Natural Resources Committee report shows the federal government defending more than 750 Endangered Species Act (ESA)-related lawsuits over a four-year period that cost taxpayers more than $15 million in attorney fees. The report also states that according to the Department of Justice, According to DOJ, some attorneys received reimbursements up to $500 an hour including two lawyers that each received more than $2 million in attorney fees from ESA cases.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has long maintained that environmental groups use litigation as a means to generate funding for their organizations while also delaying science-based delisting rulings and forest management projects, among other things.
Find more information and reaction from the Congressional Western Caucus here.
(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)