Governor Matt Mead says that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is skirting the law through a pattern of settling lawsuits after being sued by special interest groups. In a letter to the Administrator of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, Governor Mead criticized EPA's proposed consent decree with the Sierra Club. The proposal is related to Wyoming's plan for the small particulate matter air quality standard.
In 2008, Wyoming submitted its infrastructure plan for small particulate matter to EPA Region 8. The plan complied entirely with EPA's infrastructure plan requirements at the time. Accordingly, the EPA found Wyoming's plan to be complete on October 22, 2008. EPA then failed to take final action on Wyoming's plan, even though the Clean Air Act required EPA to take such action within one year of finding the plan to be complete.
While Wyoming's plan languished, EPA rewrote the requirements. And in 2012 the Sierra Club sued the EPA. Wyoming is now having to look at new requirements.
"These burdens fall on Wyoming not because of something Wyoming did but because of what EPA failed to do. EPA sat on Wyoming's plan, which the state submitted over five years ago. While EPA was sitting on its hands with respect to Wyoming's plan, EPA was also changing the requirements for infrastructure plans. This course of conduct -- inaction combined with changing the requirements -- is detrimental to our state, and it is not proper," Governor Mead wrote.
After the Sierra Club filed suit the EPA agreed to settle the case with the Sierra Club.
"This case is troubling. It is part of a pattern of conduct where EPA is neglectful and, through a close relationship with special interest groups, a "sue and settle' strategy follows," Governor Mead wrote. "States like Wyoming, which have expended resources and worked hard on their plan submissions, are cut out of the loop and cooperative federalism is lost."
Governor Mead points out that Congress mandated states, not special interest groups, be EPA's partners in environmental regulation and EPA is skirting this mandate through the "sue and settle" strategy it has fostered. "The agency's course of conduct in this instance is part of the pattern. Skirting the law this way is inappropriate and improper, and it should stop," Governor Mead wrote.