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Mr. QUAYLE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Chairman, I oppose this amendment, because it would have allowed ideological special interest groups to block mining permits through lawsuits funded by taxpayer dollars.
The Equal Access to Justice to Act of 1980 is a law in need of reform. Recognizing the Federal Government's vast resources, it was intended to help protect small businesses, charities and ordinary Americans from unreasonable litigation or administrative proceedings.
To this end, the EAJA allows individuals with a net worth of under $2 million and businesses worth less than $7 million to collect attorneys' fees up to $125 per hour. Last year the Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law held a hearing on the need for EAJA reform.
The subcommittee learned that particular groups, particularly environmental organizations, are aggressively exploiting the EAJA. The EAJA exempts all not-for-profit organizations from the net worth cap, and it allows attorneys' fees over $125 per hour if a special factor justifies such an award.
Well-heeled environmental organizations take full advantage of these provisions to collect large awards for attorneys' fees. For example, the Center for Food Safety recently awarded more than $2.6 million under the EAJA, with its lead counsel compensated at a rate of $650 per hour. It's a good gig if you can get it.
Simply by reviewing public court records, a witness of the subcommittee's hearing found that 20 environmental organizations collected $5.8 million in fees between September 1, 2009, and August 31, 2010.
The EAJA was meant to help give small businesses, charities, and ordinary citizens a fighting chance against the Federal Government. Considering the pressing need for reform, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012 was wisely written to prevent any organization or straw man plaintiff who was a member of and whose attorneys may be paid by such an organization from slowing down the permitting process or advancing its ideological agenda in court using public money.
Now, of course, they can still bring suit, but not on the taxpayers' dime.
For these reasons, I oppose this amendment.
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