Monday, February 10, 2014

Bill would track federal funds to enviro groups that sue


A bill passed out of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that Rep. Cynthia Lummis hopes will shed light on reimbursements of public funds environmental groups receive when they sue the federal government, the Casper Star Tribune reports.
Rep. Cynthia Lummis
"Lummis, R-Wyo., sponsored H.R. 2919, the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, with Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and Doug Collins, R-Ga. After Wednesday’s passage in committee, the bill heads to the House floor. The bill was introduced Aug. 1.
"The bill would require more transparency for those who use the Equal Access to Justice Act. EAJA was passed by Congress in 1980. Lummis said EAJA was created to reimburse legal fees of the “little guy,” such as a veteran, retiree, small-business owner or nonprofit with legal bills when facing the giant federal government in court.
Lummis contends that “EAJA was later co-opted by large environmental groups so their litigation shops could get reimbursed for filing expansive litigation on environmental issues.” 

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Her would require the nonpartisan Administrative Conference of the United States to report to Congress each year how much has been paid from EAJA, by which federal agencies, and the recipients of those dollars. The Administrative Conference, an independent agency tasked with finding solutions to improve federal agencies’ administrative processes, would also create an online database with the information.

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